Even though I am usually on the normal tourist-tracks when I visit a new place, I also like to explore the lesser-known, less touristy places as much as I can. I like the fact that these off-the-beaten-path places offer different views, different vibes and very often, fewer crowd. The Jiajiang Thousand Buddha Cliff in Sichuan is one such place I visited recently.
The Jiajiang Thousand Buddha Cliff (千佛岩) in Jiajiang county (夹江) Chengdu is a 2A rated attractions by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) based on the code “Categories and Rating Standard of Tourist Attractions” (1A being the lowest and 5A the highest or the best). There is very little information on the Cliff available on the internet which made it quite mysterious and the photographs I saw intrigued me. Even our driver didn’t really know how to get there exactly. We had to drive through some industrial park at some point.
When we finally reached the “front gate” we had to walk through a small village first.
There’s no signage whatsoever so we just kept going straight. I had to ask a local which way it was – just in case. I later got to know that the street inside the village linking to the Jiajiang Thousand Buddha Cliff was where scholars gather in the ancient times.
At the end of the street, we saw a gate / gantry. After passing through the gate, we saw the Qingyi river on the left, it was a pleasant sight.
There are a couple of stone signs along the way which tried to provide short explanations of what the Jiajiang Thousand Buddha Cliff is about. Apparently the statues on the rocks were carved by the Chinese commoners during the prosperous Tang Dynasty and there are more than 2,470 statues within 162 niches. These carvings were dated earlier than the Leshan Giant Buddha.
After paying for our tickets at RMB5 each, we proceeded inside the park towards the Cliff.
Once we stand beside the Jiajiang Thousand Buddha Cliff, we were very impressed – statues and statues of Buddha carved inside the rock. Although many had missing heads, a lot are still intact. There’s a whole lot of variety of Buddha with varied postures and gorgeous colours. The workmanship was intricate and displayed the superior skills of the stone sculpture back in the ancient time.
The biggest sculpture is a Buddha at about 2.7 metre tall. People still pray to some of these Buddha and there’s an old lady selling incense and joss-sticks at the Pavilion.
After we prayed and burned some incense we walked on and came to a small wooden bridge erected right next to the cliff. Even along these cliffs, there are carvings, some of Buddhas and others ancient Chinese phrases.
There is also a temple at the top of the mountain which we didn’t visit because it was getting late and dark.
On our way back out, we saw one last sign bidding us farewell and reminded us of where we were and what we had just seen.
We took more than an hour to walk around the whole place, which is about 600m long. We took our time to admire the carvings and surroundings. There were like 15 local (mainland Chinese) tourists the whole time we were there and we were the only foreigners!
The Jiajiang Thousand Buddha Cliff was quiet and peaceful, a very welcomed change from the rest of China tourist sights. I also think that this is a beautiful place with some amazing history and stories waiting to be told. This attraction certainly has a lot more potential than what it is now and I hope more travellers will pay a visit before it becomes more popular and crowded. It is definitely one of my favourites.
Also read about our visit to the Leshan Giant Buddha here. What are your favourite off-the-beaten-path attractions?
For other things to do in Chengdu, click here.