Located about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) west of Binxian County, Shaanxi Province, the Great Buddha Temple is famous for its giant statue of Maitreya Buddha, which is delicate and majestically sculpted. It is regarded as the “First Wonder in Shaanxi Province” and a bright pearl on the Silk Road.
With a history of more than 1,300 years, the temple were built in A.D. 628 during the Tang Dynasty by Li Shiming to commemorate the soldiers who died during the battle which happened in Binxian and it was called Yingfu Temple originally. Later in the Northern Song Dynasty it was renamed as Qingshou Temple by the emperor Renzong to celebrate the birthday of his mother. Since Ming Dynasty till now, it has been popularly called the Great Buddha Temple because of the giant Buddha statue in it.
The temple is fascinated with the Qingliang Mountain in its south, Jing River in its north and a five-floor chamber standing in front of it. Along the 400-meter’s cliff, there are130 caves, 446 shrines, and 1980 stone-carved buddhas with different sizes. They are divided into five parts: the Great Buddha Grotto, the Thousand-Buddha Cave, the Arhat Cave, the Zhangba Buddha Grotto and the Dormitary Grotto. The entrance to every cave is sheltered by a wooden tower.
The Great Buddha Grotto stands in the center of this temple and is the largest grotto. The seated statue of Maitreya Buddha in the middle of this grotto is 20 meters high, with his head 5.2 meters tall, his hand 4.5 meters long, his fingers 2 meters long and his nails 0.5 meter long. This giant Buddha is recognized as the largest Buddha statue both in Shaanxi Province and along the Silk Road. The graceful Buddha Statue of superb craftsmanship is acclaimed as a marvel of grotto art from the heyday of the Tang Dynasty. Besides, on either side of this giant Buddha stand Bodhisattva Dashizhi and Kwan-yin Bodhisattva, both are 17.6 meters high. They are called the “Three Saints in Paradise”.
The Thousand-Buddha Cave is situated in the east of the Great Buddha Grotto. The main statue is Maitreya with his disciples, Bodhisattvas and Heracles standing besides him. In other niches, most of the statues consist of one Buddha and two Bodhisattvas, or one Buddha with two disciples, and two Bodhisattvas. The Bodhisattvas with graceful poses and flowery clothes look like beautiful dancers. Therefore, they are considered by many tourists to be “the Venus of the East”.
The Arhat Cave sits on the west side of the Great Buddha Grotto. The Zhangba Buddha Grotto is located about 100 meters from the west of the Great Buddha Grotto. And the Dormitary Grotto is on the east side of the Great Buddha Grotto.
The grottoes at the Great Buddha Temple are not only a memorial hall of a war but also testimony to the flourishing years of the Tang Dynasty. They provide important real objects to the study of the history, wars and Buddhism in the Tang Dynasty.
ADD: At the foot of Qingliang Mountain, 10 kilometers west of the county town of Binxian in Xianyang City, Shaanxi Province.
Transport: You can take a long-distance bus from Xi’an to Binxian and then change to public bus No. 3 to the Giant Buddha Temple (Dafosi Stop).