The Hong Kong Big Buddha in Lantau Island is one of the largest seated Buddha statues in the world. It stands at 34 meters high (112 feet) and is one of Hong Kong's most popular sights. Tian Tan, as the Big Buddha is known, is made of bronze.
The Big Buddha is not a "piece of history" but rather a fairly recent endeavor. It was unveiled in 1993 and ever since visitors have been flocking in numbers. In fact, the entire complex has a "newness" feel to it, and with the tourist crowds inevitably comes a bit of commercialisation.
Getting to Ngong Ping Village and the Hong Kong Big Buddha with the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car is in itself an attraction and definitely the recommended way to get here to see the Buddha.
As you traverse the Ngong Ping Village, the paths beyond will be well-marked, but not really necessary as you can always look up and see the majestic Hong Kong Big Buddha sitting atop the hill so all you have to do is head in that direction.
Leaving the Ngong Ping Village, the path to the Big Buddha will be flanked on both sides by the Twelve Divine Generals.
Each of the Twelve Divine Generals that guard the statue, symbolizes a different animal from the Chinese Zodiac, is armed with a particular weapon, and represents two distinct hours of the day.
General Makura represents the Rabbit in the Chinese Zodiac Calendar,
5am to 7am of the day, and is armed with an axe
Once you pass the Twelve Divine Generals you will see the Staircase that leads to the Buddha atop the hill. There are 260 steps and several areas in between where you can stop for a rest, take pictures, and just enjoy the views.
260 Steps Lead to Tian Tan
Tian Tan rests on a three-tier podium at the end of the Staircase. The first level contains Six Statues of Bodhisattvas, three on each side of the staircase.
Bodhisattvas on the First Level of the Podium surround the Big Buddha,
the Po Lin Monastery can be seen behind.
The Bodhisattvas are Buddhist deities which are venerated for helping mortals reach enlightment. Each statue weighs about two tons and are made of stone.
The Second Level houses a small museum with paintings and various articles depicting Buddha's life and teachings.
And finally the closest look at Tian Tan, seating on a wreath of Lotus Leaves. The Lotus has special significance in Buddhism, and is a symbol of Purity.
Another symbol of Buddhism is the "reverse swastika". You will see these symbols used in decoration throughout Buddhist temples as well as here carved into the chest of the Big Buddha. The symbol has nothing to do with the swastika, it is merely a symbol associated with Buddhism, like the cross would be a symbol for Catholics.
The 260-step climb will be well-rewarded, the views from Tian Tan's podium are magnificent and you can go around in a 360 circle and enjoy Lantau Island's beauty, the valleys and mountains...
...the sea and islands beyond...
... small monasteries dotting the hills...
How to get to the Hong Kong Big Buddha?
Getting there is half the fun with the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, an attraction in itself, that will bring you from Tung Chung (take Tung Chung MTR) to the Ngong Ping Village and signs to the Buddha are easy to follow but really not even necessary as you will spot it right away, just walk on that direction or follow the crowds...
If you prefer to leave the planning and arrangements to the experts, this Tour of Lantau Island including the Big Buddha, picks you up at your hotel or a nearby one, and bring you to all the highlights.
I hope you enjoy your visit as much as we enjoyed ours. There's more to explore around Big Buddha...
Nearby Sights in Lantau Island
Don't miss any of the other nearby attractions in Lantau. These can all be done on a DIY day trip or a guided tour to the Island and will certainly cover most of Lantau Highlights:
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