Visiting the Big Buddha of Hong Kong
By José Ramírez |
There are a lot of Buddha monuments in China, and one of them is the Big Buddha, located in Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Discover its history and its meaning, as well as the monastery and the museum that surround it.
On this website, we’ve introduced you to some monumental structures, considered as valuable national treasures, such as the Statue of Liberty, in the United States, or the Statue of Christ the Redeemer, in Brazil. This time, DINKtravelers your world travel guide, invites you to visit the Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, which is, without doubt, one of Hong Kong’s greatest attractions.
Tian Tan Buddha’s Construction
The construction of this titanic masterpiece was led by the experienced rockets and satellites manufacturers of the China Astronomical Industry Scientific and Consultative Corporation of Nanjing. Given its dimensions, the sculpture was manufactured in Nanjing, China, and was divided into 202 bronze pieces that were transported to Lantau Island, where the whole structure was assembled. Admittedly, this process took more than 3 years, concluding on December 28th, 1993.
The opening ceremony was attended by monks from around the world who were joined by distinguished personalities from countries and regions such as the United States, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka.
How to Get to the Giant Buddha in Hong Kong
Nestled at the top of Lantau Island, the megalithic statue awaits for visitors who arrive by boat or cable car. Meanwhile, pedaling in the opposite direction, most of the inhabitants of the island descend the hill and park their bikes at the port before boarding the boat that will take them to the city of Hong Kong, where they usually work.
On the other hand, the best you can do is get to Lantau by boat, but take the cable car on your way back. Once on the island, you can take a cab that will drive you to the Tian Tan Buddha or, if you so desire, ask the driver to drop you off at the museum’s entrance, so that you avoid the fatigue of climbing the stairway.
Visit Po Lin Monastery
Once in situ, you’ll find, first, a Buddhist monastery. Both tourists and religious people can buy incense and light it as part of a ritual that is usually followed by a prayer. However, it can be simply carried out as an act of gratefulness for all the blessings that have been received. Afterward, an elaborate trail will lead to the feet of the Tian Tan Buddha. In order to reach the statue, you’ll have to climb 240 steps! But trust us, it’s worth the effort.
Once at the hilltop, you’ll find a base adorned by six small statues of Buddhist deities, which are shown presenting offerings to the Big Buddha. These include fruit, music, incense, flowers and ointments. In addition, walking around this base you’ll have a formidable view of the island that will make you feel as if you were in paradise.
Buddhist Figures and Their Meaning
The figures that complement the Big Buddha of Lantau Island are related to Buddhism too, so they have a meaning. Among these, you’ll find the twelve statues that fence the path to Po Lin Monastery and they belong to the Divine Generals, protectors of Buddha. Each one represents a different animal from the Chinese zodiac. The figures that surround Buddha, called “The Offering of the Six Devas”, correspond to deities that symbolize the qualities needed for illumination, according to Buddhism. These are morality, enthusiasm, generosity, patience, knowledge and meditation. There are also two sculpted stones in the form of lions at the entrance of the monastery; we’re talking about the iconic Fu Dogs, also known as Xiezhi Lions,. They’re the protectors of Buddhist temples and are always placed in pairs, male and female. It is believed that they bring good luck and banish evil spirits. If you pay attention to the colossal statue of Buddha, you’ll find that it has a swastika on its chest, a symbol that means Buddha’s understanding of all virtues.
As you have noticed, everything in this place is full of symbolism. In fact, while you’re there, you’ll listen to the sound of a big bell that rings every seven minutes. That’s 108 times per day, the same number as the 108 problems of humanity.
Tian Tan Buddha Weight and Height
As you raise your eyes to the 34 meters (112 feet) tall bronze sculpture that crowns the landscape, you’ll be taken aback by its 200 tons and imposing presence. At its feet, there’s a door that leads to a small museum where you can learn a little bit about the construction of the monument, the life and work of its author, and the patrons who contributed with its erection. Also, you’ll learn about the life of the man who became Buddha and you’ll even find a box that contains a splinter of his skeleton and that is now considered a relic.
From afar and up close, the Big Buddha is truly astonishing. Actually, on clear days, you can spot it in the distance from Macao Island.
Tips to Visit the Big Buddha of Lantau Island
In order to complement your visit and infuse yourself with the spirit of that place, there’s a cafeteria in the Buddhist monastery where you can have a similar meal to that accustomed by the monks. However, you can have access to the vegetarian menu only after buying the museum’s ticket, which also include access to the exposition and have a cost of $14 USD, approximately.
Visit one of the world’s tallest Buddha’s monuments, a Hong Kong’s national treasure that fuses itself with the amazing local nature.