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The Tian Tan Buddha, Hong Kong

Tian Tan Buddha, also known as the Big Buddha, is a large bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, completed in 1993, and located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, in Hong Kong.

bannerThe statue is sited near Po Lin Monastery and symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith. It is a major centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong, and is also a popular tourist attraction.

 

The grand entrance gate to the Giant Buddha Complex, Lantau Island, Hong Kong PRC

The hills surrounding the Buddha complex

The valley and hills around the Giant Buddha complex

The statue is named Tian Tan Buddha because it’s base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. One of the five large Buddha statues in China, it is enthroned on a lotus on top of a three-platform altar. Surrounding it are six smaller bronze statues known as “The Offering of the Six Devas” that are posed offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to the Buddha. These symbolise the Six Perfections of generosity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary for enlightenment.

The Giant Buddha from a distance - Lantau Island, Hong Kong

the flag podium at Giant Buddha complex

The statue is 34 metres (112 ft) tall, weighs over 250 metric tons (280 short tons), and was constructed from 202 bronze pieces. In addition to the exterior components, there is a strong steel framework inside to support the heavy load. Reputedly the figure can be seen across the bay from as far away as Macau on a clear day. Visitors have to climb 268 steps to reach the Buddha, though the site also features a small winding road for vehicles to accommodate the handicapped. The Buddha’s right hand is raised, representing the removal of affliction, while the left rests open on his lap in a gesture of generosity. He faces north, which is unique among the great Buddha statues, as all others face south.

Left hand of the Giant Buddha

Stairway to Heaven

There are also three floors beneath the statue: the halls of the Universe, of Benevolent Merit and of Remembrance. One of the most renowned features inside is a relic of Gautama Buddha, consisting of some of his alleged cremated remains. Only visitors who purchase an offering for the Buddha are allowed to see the relic, entering to leave it there. There is a huge carved bell inscribed with images of Buddhas in the show room. It was designed to ring every seven minutes, 108 times a day, symbolising the release of 108 kinds of human vexations.

Statues aroung the base of the Giant Buddha on Lantau Island, Hong Kong, China

Po Lin Mastery 1

The Tian Tan Buddha was constructed beginning in 1990, and was finished on 29 December 1993, which the Chinese reckon as the day of the Buddha’s enlightenment. When the statue was completed, monks from around the world were invited to the opening ceremony. Distinguished visitors from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, and the United States all took part in the proceedings.

On 18 October 1999, the Hong Kong Post Office issued a definitive issue of landmark stamps, of which the HK$2.50 value depicts the Tian Tan Buddha.On 22 May 2012 it was also featured on the HK$3 value of the Five Festival set, this one celebrating the birth of Sakyamuni Buddha. The MTR corporation has also issued a souvenir ticket featuring a photograph of the statue.

Outside construction of the Giant Buddha

Picture of when they were constructing the Giant Buddha

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Po Lin Monastery is a Buddhist monastery, located on Ngong Ping Plateau, on Lantau Island, Hong Kong.

The monastery was founded in 1906 by three monks visiting from Jiangsu Province on the Chinese mainland and was initially known simply as “The Big Hut” (大茅蓬 Tai Mao Pung). It was renamed to its present name in 1924. The main temple houses three bronze statues of the Buddha – representing his past, present and future lives – as well as many Buddhist scriptures.

Inside the shrine of the Po Lin Monastery

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Tian Tan Buddha, a giant Buddha statue completed in 1993, is an extension of the monastery.

The Ngong Ping 360, consisting of the Ngong Ping village and a gondola lift running between Tung Chung and Ngong Ping, was built near to the Po Lin Monastery.The monastery boasts many prominent architectural structures, such as the Main Shrine Hall of Buddha, the Hall of Bodhisattva Skanda.

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This monastery is also noted for making wooden bracelets that are only sold near the Tian Tan Buddha statue.

In 1918, three nuns ordained at this monastery established a private nunnery called Chi Chuk Lam (紫竹林) on Lantau’s Lower Keung Hill (下羌山). The nunnery is dedicated to Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. There were about 20 jushi and nuns residing there in the 1950s, but now only an elderly abbess remains.

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Chinese Buddhism (Han Chinese Buddhism) has played an extremely prominent and dynamic role in Buddhist history, particularly in East Asia. Over the course of approximately two thousand years, Buddhist ideas and practices have shaped Chinese culture in a wide variety of areas, including art, politics, literature, philosophy, medicine, and material culture.

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The translation of a large body of Indian Buddhist scriptures into Chinese and the inclusion of these translations together with works composed in China into a printed canon had far-reaching implications for the dissemination of Buddhism throughout the Chinese cultural sphere, including Korea, Japan, Ryukyu Islands and Vietnam. Chinese Buddhism is also marked by the interaction between Indian and Chinese religion.

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From medieval times on, various legends circulated in China telling of the presence of Buddhism on Chinese soil in very ancient times. Nonetheless, the scholarly consensus is that Buddhism first came to China in the first century of the Common Era, that is, in the Han Dynasty through missionaries from India. From that time on, Buddhism played a significant role in Chinese history up to and including modern times.

There it is - the sign telling me where to goBuddhist art is the artistic practices that are influenced by Buddhism. It includes art media which depict Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and other entities; notable Buddhist figures, both historical and mythical; narrative scenes from the lives of all of these; mandalas and other graphic aids to practice; as well as physical objects associated with Buddhist practice, such as vajras, bells, stupas and Buddhist temple architecture. Buddhist art originated on the Indian subcontinent following the historical life of Siddhartha Gautama, 6th to 5th century BC, and thereafter evolved by contact with other cultures as it spread throughout Asia and the world.

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Construction of the Giant Buddha

closeup for the Giant Buddhas face

Buddhist devotees kneel on eevery step (268 in total) as they climb up to the sitting Buddha.

an abudance of flags

268 steps uphill to the sitting Buddha on Lantau Island, Hong Kong 2011

Buddhist art followed believers as the dharma spread, adapted, and evolved in each new host country. It developed to the north through Central Asia and into Eastern Asia to form the Northern branch of Buddhist art, and to the east as far as Southeast Asia to form the Southern branch of Buddhist art. In India, Buddhist art flourished and co-developed with Hindu and Jain art, with cave temple complexes built together, each likely influencing the other.

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At the Po Lin Monastery, there was lunch served for visitors to the temple and surrounding areas. Itw as run by the temple monks and the food was pure vegetarian so I decided to sit myself down and dig in. See?. I was still using my old Blackberry handphone, haha!n Those were the days!!. The food by the way was delicious and perfect for such a warm sunny day on Lantau Island. Remember you have to take a ferry from downtown Hong Kong and the trip takes about 40 minutes to arrive and dock at Lantau Island, so its best to set out early which I did around 9am from where the cruiseship was docked in Victoria Bay, Hong Kong, a very busy port.

Inside - top deck and airconditioned - of the Express Ferry cum Boat to Lantau Island I took

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All in all, I think I spent well over four hours on this island and seeking to find a place to get a nice cold drink proved to be quite a task which I failed in, so I decided to take a ferry back to my second home, the cruiseship. Bye Buddha, Bye Lantau Island and farewell to one of the most memorable trips in my life. I do hope one day I can make a trip back?.

Giant Buddha Face 1

Beautiful angled shot of the Giant Buddha on Lantau Island, Hong Kong, ChinaGrand Voyage Asia and Australia 2011 656 (1280x960)Even Buddha himself waved me goodbye!

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