The Big Buddha in Hong Kong, photos and descriptions

The Big Buddha in Hong Kong

The Big Buddha in Hong Kong is a statue that stands on Lantau Island near the Powlinsim Monastery. This architectural creation is impressive in its size: the 34-metre-high statue sits on a 482-metre-high mountain and weighs more than 250 tonnes. To get close to the monumental figure, the curious tourist will have to overcome the ascent of 268 steps, although there is a separate path for wheelchairs. The statue has a peculiarity – the Big Buddha is turned to face the north, unlike other existing copies, always looking to the south. It is as if he is blessing the lands of Hong Kong and mainland China spread out before him.

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Video: Big Buddha in Hong Kong

Highlights

The base of the statue of the Big Buddha is a massive pedestal consisting of three tiers and shaped like a lotus, and the face is covered with thin gold plates, as is proper for a deity of this level. The structure looks especially attractive on a slightly cloudy day: a halo of tattered clouds and sunlight gliding through it envelop the Big Buddha with a mystical aura. And the chiming of the bell every seven minutes gives the picture a special flavor.

The face and palm of the Buddha’s right hand The name of the statue is translated from Chinese as “Big Buddha of the sky” Big Buddha’s hands

The right hand of the Big Buddha in Hong Kong is raised in the Abhaya mudra, which helps dispel fears. But the fingers of the left hand, resting quietly on his knee, are folded in the Kubera mudra, which grants wishes. It is possible that a visit to the shrine will awaken a desire to study the basic canons of Buddhism in more detail.

The Big Buddha in Hong Kong

There is usually a huge line for the cable car to get up to the attraction. So it’s far more efficient to get there by bus, but don’t pass up the chance to admire the panoramic views from the funicular railway on the way back. Try to choose a cabin with a transparent bottom, it will greatly increase the impression! The fare on it is a little bit more expensive – 210 NK$, while on the regular it is 150 NK$.

The structure of the architectural complex

Big Buddha statue is not a monolithic structure, but a whole architectural complex, built in the second half of the XX century. The central figure of the deity is surrounded by six statues of Bodhisattvas praying to him with various gifts, embodying the basic Buddhist virtues of diligence, meditation, kindness, mercy, morality and patience. In addition to the aesthetic pleasure of contemplation of this masterpiece, you can greatly expand your horizons here. But for that you will have to buy an entrance ticket.

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Bodhisattvas Surrounding the Great Buddha

The first floor is entirely occupied by the Hall of Punya or Hall of Virtue. Its walls are decorated with paintings of episodes from the earthly life of Buddha. There is also a huge bell whose 108 daily strokes symbolize deliverance from the same number of problems. The guardian of this hall is the statue of Kshitigarbha, the Bodhisattva who is the protector of all life on earth.

On the second floor, tourists will find a mesmerizing spectacle – the panel “Sermon Fayim” depicting Bodhisattvas listening. The masterpiece is made of wood: 160 pairs of eyes, conveying the shades of different emotions, stir the imagination even of hardened skeptics. Its name, Dharmadhatu (Hall of the Universe), is also very symbolic.

The Hall of Remembrance is situated on the third floor and is famous for the fact that it contains a part of holy relics of Buddha. It has analogues only in Sri Lanka and mainland China. According to legend, the lucky ones who are lucky enough to catch sight of them, can later see the Buddha himself!

The most spectacular is a significant landmark in Hong Kong on the birthdays of the Buddha, when local monks traditionally wash the feet of the statue. In 2016, this date falls on May 14.

How to get there

The Big Buddha statue is located in Hong Kong, in the Island District of Western New Territory, on the Ngonphing Hill of Lantau Island. The first thing to do is to get to the Tung Chung subway station. Very close to the subway exit is the Tung Chung Town Centre Bus Terminus, from which you will take number 23 to your destination. At the ticket office it is better to buy a pass Lantau pass, which costs 35 NK$. It gives the right to move around the island freely for a whole day on any bus.

At the foot of the statue

One of the alternatives is the cable car, located a five-minute walk from the subway exit and its stop is called Ngong Ping Cable Car Tung Chung Station.

For a leisurely boat ride, take the ferry from Central Ferry to Mui Wo Pier on Lantau Island. Nearby is the Mui Wo Pier Bus Terminus stop, where you will have to take the number 2 and get to the terminus.

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Funicular to the Big Buddha Mui Wo Pier Funicular in front of the Buddha

If you’re not strapped for cash, the fastest way to get to the Buddha statue is by cab. This is especially true for those tourists who are passing through the country and are very limited in time, but even that small fraction of hours do not want to spend in vain. The average fare from the airport to the architectural complex is between $170 and $200 NK.

What to see nearby

The picturesque monastery of Poulinsim (“precious lotus”) is an equally interesting attraction located in close proximity to the Buddha statue. The amazing symbiosis of beauty, silence and serenity attracts tourists from all over the world, regardless of religion. Connoisseurs of artifacts should not miss the main hall of the Buddha and the hall of the Arhats. Lovers of solitude should have a session of meditation near the Lotus Pond, in which the fish are quietly splashing and pouring silver jets of the small fountain. But fans of the beautiful need to get into the orchid garden. It grows a lot of exotic plants, and then they are planted throughout the monastery. Gourmets will love the tea ceremony, which is held on a schedule in the tea house.

Memorial Gate at Powlinsim Monastery View from the Big Buddha at Powlinsim Buddhist Monastery

Tourist information

The best time to visit the Big Buddha in Hong Kong is in winter, when everything is in bloom and fragrance. Experienced visitors are advised to use the services of a Russian-speaking guide in order to absorb the history and beautiful legends associated with Buddhist shrines. It is desirable to reduce all inconveniences associated with climbing the long staircase of 268 steps to a minimum, so you should wear comfortable shoes with a good fixation on the foot.

There is a cafe with vegetarian cuisine and many souvenir shops, so having a certain amount of money is mandatory.

Big Buddha

The largest bronze Buddha statue in the world is in Hong Kong, and next to it is the Po Lin Buddhist Monastery.

There is a large island in the Hong Kong administrative district that is larger than the other islands. This island to the southwest of Hong Kong is called either Lantau or Daiyushan, “big mountain island. Currently, the island is quite developed, including in terms of tourism: there is an international airport, a cable car and even Disneyland.

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During China’s long history, Lantau Island has been a profitable military base, as well as the site of numerous temple buildings. Lantau is worth visiting: the main tourist attraction there is the world-famous 34-meter statue of Buddha, made of bronze. Today, Lantau can satisfy both quiet and relaxed lovers and fans of the experience.

If you like nature, the places of the island are famous for their beauty, which you can enjoy by taking a ride on the cable car. You can visit a fishing village with a traditional way of life, also called “the fishing Venice of Hong Kong” and take a boat ride, taste the seafood and admire the dolphins. And if you’re looking for an urban experience, there are the city’s markets and parks and Disneyland. There’s also a beach on the southern tip of Lantau. But most noteworthy is the Ngonpin Plateau and Po Lin Monastery, where a huge statue of Buddha is erected.

Because of this statue, Po Lin is considered the center of Buddhism in its region.

Po Lin was founded in 1906 by three Chinese monks. Until 1924, the temple had a different name.

The drive from the center of the locality to the temple takes about 25 minutes by car. And then you have a magnificent view: the monastic buildings of Po Lin and a 34-meter statue of Shakyamuni Buddha, a symbol of religious life in Hong Kong and the world’s second largest statue of a seated Buddha of this size.

There are signs all around the way to the hill on which the statue stands, but just turn your head in the right direction and the huge bronze statue will appear before you in all its glory.

The steps on the way are framed by statues of 12 divine Chinese warlords, each of which also represents the 12 signs of the zodiac cycle.

There is a village on the Ngongping Plateau from which you can reach the Po Lin Temple. The funicular road from the city to the plateau is a separate attraction. First of all, it is long, and secondly, the floors of the cable car cabins are transparent!

The village of Ngongping, which is reached by cable car, is a typical Chinese tourist village with old-style houses, some of which are modern and functional inside. Under the traditionally decorated tile roof you can find, for example, a Starbucks coffee shop. Tourists buy souvenirs here, but we would advise you to wait to buy them because it is at the Po Lin Temple where monks make unique wooden bracelets that sell well as souvenirs. You can buy such a bracelet at the foot of the statue.

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However, there are still 260 stairs to climb to the famous attraction. First you get to the level of the six boddhisattvas, there you can also take a break on the long way up. In the second ‘resting place’ you can visit the museum, which exhibits Buddhist religious paintings and objects related to the Buddhist cult. The monastery is rich in objects of iconography. For those with little interest in museum rarities, the monks offer an excellent vegetarian restaurant.

And then, on the third level of the heavenly altar, a magnificent wooded panorama opens up to you, paying off the high ascent. From the height of the steps and the plateau you have a view of the entire island, its valleys, mountains, buildings and the sea.

The statue of Shakyamuni Buddha was opened to the public relatively recently, in 1993, becoming a symbol of man’s harmonious relationship with nature. However, the temple itself is noteworthy. Its two halls, the hall of the main Buddhist shrine and the hall of the boddhisattva Skanda, are worth seeing.

The Buddha statue was planned and built over a long 12 years. The natural elevation of the plateau and Muk Yue Peak was chosen as the best place to erect the statue. The perfect Buddha looks out from the lofty heights calmly and majestically. But what is the story behind the bronze shrine?

In 1973, the venerable abbot of the monastery and his assistants visited the Japanese Buddhist school of Tsaodong. They were struck by the grandeur of the Buddha statue in the city of Kamakura. Later, after visiting Taiwan, they also marveled at another huge Buddha statue in the city of Zhanghua. Considering this veneration to be the only proper observance of Buddhist traditions, the monks decided to erect their own monument. They believed that with the construction of the Buddha statue, a spirit of tranquility and peace should descend upon the monastery; contemplation of Shakyamuni’s luminous face should dispel people’s doubts and fears, and the monks should attain a state of inner harmony.

Already in 1974, the monastery has achieved the government allocated them an additional area of land, but the idea has not yet been finalized. It wasn’t until 1979, after worshipping on the altar of heaven in Beijing, that the monks decided that their Buddha must necessarily be on the altar of heaven, thus combining two philosophical and mystical concepts. For the same reason, the statue built is called the Tian Tang Buddha, “Buddha of the heavenly altar. The features of the Buddha’s face are taken from the descriptions of “32 traces of his earthly sojourn” described in the sutras, the model being the face of the Varochana Buddha from another Chinese monastery, considered a symbol of serenity of thought. Usually such statues are placed facing south, but this one is unique in its kind: the Buddha’s face is facing north.

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Every part of the statue: his hands, his face, his hair, the folds of his clothes have their own symbolic meaning. His face is like a full moon, a kind smile that brings light to people, and his eyes are shaped like lotus leaves. On his chest is the sign of the swastika, a sign of his possession of all the earthly and heavenly virtues. He sits cross-legged on the lotus throne, which symbolizes his detachment from the mundane and purity of thought. More than 5,000 sketches had to be made to fit the Buddhist sutras. The engineers had to make complex technical calculations to calculate the wind force, the load and the strength of the material.

The statue was finished in 1989, but its inauguration took place 5 years later. The statue ranks fourth on the list of Hong Kong’s Ten Wonders of Engineering. It combines traditional models of Chinese religious art with modern engineering. On weekdays, you can even go inside the statue at certain hours. There are prayer rooms: the Hall of the Universe, the Hall of Benevolent Merit and the Hall of Remembrance. Behind the main shrine in the trees hides the Hall of a Thousand Buddhas, one of the beautiful temple buildings. In the main temple complex, however, it is worth seeing the huge main hall with its high ceilings decorated with paintings, lanterns and texts of prayers.

A short distance from the monastery there is also the so-called “path of wisdom,” a multitude of wooden pillars decorated with hieroglyphic inscriptions from the “sutra of the heart,” an important Buddhist prayer. “The Heart Sutra teaches how to achieve enlightenment and wisdom through the practice of meditation. This short prayer is chanted during the morning service at the monastery.

So, the Po Lin Monastery is an important Buddhist heritage site as well as an interesting tourist attraction with an extensive internal structure of attractions.

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