Sichuan reciprocates Zhejiang's assistance by opening up attractions for its residents
Throughout the many years of pairing assistance, Zhejiang Province has prioritized the economies, education and health care of western China's Sichuan Province. A group of government officials, doctors and teachers have been dispatched to help raise living standards in impoverished areas of Sichuan.
Sichuan Province is repaying Zhejiang by opening 575 scenic attractions for free to Zhejiang residents through October 30. This measure is also expected to divert crowds of visitors during the 19th Asian Games, which will be held from September 23 to October 8.
Shanghai Daily takes a look at the list and selects some highlights worthy of a visit.
Leshan Giant Buddha
The Buddha statue, carved into a cliff in Leshan Mountain and overlooking three converging rivers, was built during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907). Measuring 71 meters in height, it is believed to be the world's largest Buddha and the tallest pre-modern statue.
The Buddha was carved here for a specific reason. Chinese Monk Haitong hoped Buddha would calm the turbulent waters that plagued vessels traveling on the river. Since the project was paused due to insufficient funding, it took more than 90 years to complete.
Massive stones were removed from the cliff and deposited into the river, which altered the current, making the water safe for passing ships. Meanwhile, a sophisticated drainage system was incorporated into the statue, including drainage pipes installed into various places on the body to carry away water after rains so as to reduce weathering. The system still works today.
When the Giant Buddha was carved, a huge 13-floor wooden shelter was erected to protect it from rain and sunshine. However, this structure was destroyed at the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). From then on, the statue was exposed, which accelerated degradation.
In 2001, a project was carried out to clean up the body, reinforce the cement rock structures and install drainage pipes. In 2007, the Buddha underwent another renovation to repair the damages caused by weathering and acid rain. In 2019, the statue was shut down again for a six-month examination.
Mt Emei is one of the "Four Sacred Buddhist Mountains of China," and is traditionally regarded as the place of enlightenment of Samantabhadram, the bodhisattva of meditation.
Throughout history, there were once more than 1,000 Buddhist temples on the mountain, leaving a rich legacy of relics and architecture. Today, some 30 temples remain, including the Baoguo Temple, Fuhu Temple and Huazang Temple.
An 8-meter-high statue of Samantabhadra was built in the famous Wannian Temple in the 9th century and is still worshipped today.
The practice of martial arts in the monasteries of Mt Emei is thought to date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, which made it a mecca for kung fu aficionados. Mt Emei was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.
The stunning sunrise and clouds visible from the Golden Summit have always been the signature attraction of Mt Emei. The sunrise begins with the sky a dark purple, soon showing rosy clouds, followed by a bright purple arc and then a semicircle where the sun is rising.
Beichuan Qiang Ancient City
Beichuan is an autonomous county dominated by the Qiang ethnic minority. Having inhabited the area for more than 3,000 years, Qiang people still keep much of their own culture and characteristics today, even though many of them were long ago merged into the majority Han population.
In the ancient Qiang city, visitors can view Qiang-style granite houses two or three stories tall. Because of the complex terrain, the Qiang created rope bridges and built roads between caves or along cliffs to facilitate transportation. Watchtowers, which have been the epitome of Qiang hamlets, were constructed for defending against enemies and storing food.
In their tradition, white stones and fir trees are representatives of gods. White means fair and rational while black means immoral. The Qiang often put spirit tablets made of white stones on rooftops to fight against evil.
In festivals, visitors can see Qiang people dressing in their traditional clothes. The men usually wear long blue gowns with buttons down the front right and have their heads covered by black scarves. The Qiang women generally wear bright-colored clothes composed of embroidered long garments, aprons and ribbons with silver collars, bracelets, rings and earrings.