China’s gigantic 71-metre-tall Leshan Buddha, the largest stone Buddha in the world, re-opened to the public after experts carried out emergency restoration on the ancient holy statue. The repair project started in October last year and the Buddha was covered up in scaffolding. The scaffolding was removed in late March after experts mended the cracks on the statue. Tourists are once again able to climb the 250 steps leading to the top of the Buddha’s head and see the entirety of the towering sitting Buddha from the Min River by the mountain. Construction of the Buddha began in 713 AD during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) at the meeting point of three rivers, the Min River, Qingyi River and Dadu River. The statue is based on the image of Maitreya, which is regarded as the future Buddha in the Buddhist tradition. It is situated next to the Lingyun Temple on Lingyun Mountain in Leshan. Lingyun Temple means the ‘cloud side’ temple in Chinese, and the name indicates the high altitude of the enormous statue. Legend has it that in ancient times many boats sailing past Leshan, therefore the monks at the Lingyun Temple decided to build a Buddha statue to save living creatures. It took the monks 90 years to complete the religious and artistic masterpiece. A worker at the Leshan Giant Buddha Scenic Spot said the Buddha had regional cracks on its face, chest and abdomen after being exposed in nature for more than a thousand years. The worker said the damage could have caused rocks to fall and endanger the tourists underneath. An expert from Leshan Giant Buddha and Grottoes Institution claimed the latest repair was not ‘systematic restoration’, but a ‘scientific and research project’. The repair project could lay foundation for the future overall protection of the Buddha, the expert told Xinhua News Agency last October.