This was the only thing on my ‘must see’ list for Hong Kong, he’s officially known as the Tian Tan Buddha and is located on a mountain top overlooking the Po Lin Monastery on Lantau Island. There is a road, and a hiking trail up to him, but we chose to take the cable car …
It was a fantastic 25 minute ride up to the mountain, on the way out we took one of the crystal cabins which have glass floors. It was a little scary to look down at the earth/water so far beneath your feet. The cars pass over several mountain tops, most of which had small shrines at the summit. In the past they must have been pretty remote and required a lot of effort to reach, I really feel sorry that their peace and serenity has been lost. I wonder how I would feel if they decided to put a cable car up to the top of one of our local hills?
Once at the summit we emerged into yet another shopping centre! Fortunately it was quite tiny and housed a small selection of craft shops and eating establishments. There was a whole shop selling Lucky Cats which was great as I had promised the girls one each and had been having trouble finding any Mr Stoatie deemed ‘non-tacky’ enough.
Further along the road was the Po Lin Monastery. This was much larger and busier than the one Holly had taken us too and was full of tourists. We counted eight or nine souvenir stalls, all of which displayed photos of monks blessing the merchandise, including three under the Buddha itself. The Monastery was founded by three monks in 1906.
The Monastery had been fundraising to build a new shrine ‘The Hall of a Thousand Buddhas’ (above) and you could sponsor a brick, or if you had enough dollars, one of the Dragon columns. It was interesting to compare the pristine paintwork on this building to that on the one we saw earlier in the week.
Inside the Hall.
Outside the monastery is this plinth which faces the Big Buddha.
There are 269 steps to the top.
The Buddha is constructed from bronze and took twelve years to build, being completed in 1993. He is sat on a lotus throne facing North with his right palm raised – this is the gesture for imparting fearlessness, while his left hand rests in his lap in the gesture of fulfilling wishes. The three tiers he sits on form an altar.
Beneath his feet on the bottom tier are six statues called ‘The Offering of the Six Devas’ They each hold an object out to the Buddha. Flowers, incense, a lamp, ointment, fruit and a musical instrument. These represent charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation and wisdom. It’s necessary to have all these qualities to enter into nirvana.
Po Lin has it’s own website here, there is a great page showing how the Buddha was constructed.