At the foot of a mountain in the Sichuan province of China, there is a spot where three rivers meet. The waters were incredibly rough. Merchants shipping goods had a horrible time navigating and many fishermen would drown.
So, after praying and praying, a monk named Haitong decides they should build a statue of Buddha here. Perhaps God will be pleased and calm the waters for them.
In order to raise funds for the project, Haitong travels far and wide. After many years, he finally has enough money for workers to carve Buddha into the side of the mountain. However, the city government is completely corrupt. Instead of authorizing the construction, they send soldiers who tell Haitong to hand over the money.
And to show how serious he is...
He gouges his eyeballs out.
A bit overkill, but hey, it worked.
The soldiers take off-- scared of the crazy, blind monk.
It's the year 713 AD and construction begins.
They get the head carved.
They get the shoulders carved.
And then they ran out of money.
And then Haitong dies.
Years later, a Sichuan official is able to get more funding and construction begins again.
They get the Buddha statue carved all the way to the knees. But...now the Sichuan official helping gets transferred to another city and everything comes to a halt again.
Forty years later, a wealthy man comes along and donates his entire salary to finish it.
The beautiful carved Buddha, at over 232 feet tall, was completed in 803 by Haitong's "students". It took 90 years.
To give you an example of the size of this Buddha, the instep of his foot is so large, about 100 people can stand on it.
The Leshan Giant Buddha
My favourite part of this whole story?
Remember I said Haitong originally wanted to carve the Buddha so God might calm the waters?
Well, all the rock they removed from the side of the mountain went into the water and ended up calming it. Haitong's prayer was answered...in a roundabout way.
And there you go. Your interesting fact of the day: The Leshan Giant Buddha.