Liang Shan Buddha

In the hills not far from Wuxi stands 88-meter tall Liang Shan Buddha:

To get a sense of just how immense this statue is, consider the people on the staircase in the photo.

Looking down from the base of the Buddha, one can see the expanse of the valley and temple complex below:

In the temple courtyard, there is a scale replica, which one can view in alignment:

There is also a full-size copy of the Buddha’s hand. One is supposed to walk a full circuit while remaining in contact with the hand for good luck, and the wear from countless visitors is clearly visible.

I did the full circuit around the hand, and we’ll see how that works out…

The Liang Shan Buddha is not an ancient construction, but rather recent project sponsored by the Chinese government with some private donations. There is a certain over-the-top feel to the entire complex, almost like a Buddhist amusement park, with a huge parking lot, busses, etc. They have also built a large “palace” with rather gaudy devotional art. The huge circular meditation hall in the center was less ornate, with it’s arrangement of seats and geometric design, though they did have a constantly changing light show in the domed ceiling:

Not being a Buddhist, I don’t really have much interpretation of these aspects of the center. But certainly, the giant Buddha itself is impressive.

Wuxi and Lake Tai

The city of Wuxi is to the north of Suzhou, along the huge Lake Tai, or Taihu 太湖, the “grand lake”.

Like Suzhou, Wuxi has several traditional Chinese gardens, with the added bonus of being along the lake front. The Liyuan gardens (really, more of a park) had several ponds and pavilions:

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Musicians were performing traditional Chinese music in this pavilion, one of four on a large pond representing the seasons:

The garden is one the shore of Lake Tai, and just beyond the ponds and pavilions are views of the lake:

< One can see another contrast of old and new, with the traditional architecture of the waterfront restaurant in the foreground and the sleek and modern bridge in the background. Compared to the Liyuan garden, Turtlehead Garden was more “natural”, with wooded hills and views of the lake, including this iconic spot:

The garden did include the traditional “planned” elements, such as ponds filled with koi and rockeries, but a short walk leads one to far more natural scenery such as wooded hills overlooking the lake.

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I was fascinated by this one abandoned building in an overgrown wooded area:
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I was able to walk around it and get glimpses from different sides, but could not get any closer.

Feeding time for the koi:

I suspect it’s always feeding time for the koi, especially when there are children around.

Of course, at this point it was also feeding time for us, before making the trip to the giant Liang Shan Buddha.