The Po Lin Monastery in Lantau Island is a Buddhist temple and complex which despite being a popular attraction to tourists, still maintains its essence and traditions and is well-frequented by loyals.
The Monastery is one of Lantau highlights and a visit is easily and frequently done together with the Big Buddha as they are literally accross from each other.
There are several structures in this Buddhist complex, the first temples you will come to are relatively new, the original temples are tucked in the back and there is always ongoing work to maintain and add to the Monastery.
The Characters on top of the main temple spell out "Po Lin Monastery" meaning "Precious Lotus". The lotus flower is a special symbol in Buddhism meaning "Purity".
The latest addition, is the massive Hall of the Ten Thousand Buddhas which has been built behind the original main shrine. It has been recently inaugurated and looks quite impressive:
These huge palatial structure includes a shrine hall, the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, an Exhibition Hall for Budhist relics, a Meditation hall, an abbot's chamber, a Scripture Library and other multi-functional facilities for cultural and tourist events.
Visiting the Po Lin Monastery: To the Temple Gateway
As you first approach, you notice how frequented this Hong Kong temple is. Small crowds come to pray and worship, you will see them prior to the Temple Gateway where they come with their incense offerings.
Many come to pay their respects and bring offerings
Incense Offerings in the front courtyard of the Temple
There is a smaller temple that leads to the main courtyard that faces the Temple Gateway.
The Monastery Temple Gateway and grounds...
Inside you will find some statues of deities and guards protecting the entrance.
... and Gateway Guards...
The Great Hall
Buddhism came to Lantau in the early 20th century, and Po Lin was originally a small house of worship founded by three monks. The Great Hall in the main temple was built in the 1920's and from this point, Po Lin Monastery started to develop as a place of pilgrimage where followers would come to worship Buddha and pay their respects.
Don't miss the Great Hall's spectacular high ceilings,
The Great Hall Spectacular High Ceilings
The ceilings are lavishly decorated with paintings, hangings and lamps.
At the Center of the Great Hall are three Great Golden Buddha images.
The exterior is likewise impressive with the minute carvings and elaborate details everywhere from the columns to the windows.
There are some great views from atop the Great Hall overlooking the main courtyard and the Big Buddha in the distance.
The Wisdom Path
Not far and only a short and scenic walk from the Po Lin Monastery you find the Wisdom Path.
The Wisdom Path is sort of a colonnade where a series of wooden posts erected according to the mountain slope forming a figure eight and integrated into nature are engraved with the Heart Sutra, a revered prayer by Buddhists, Taoists and Confucians.
The Heart Sutra is literally at the heart of Buddhist philosophy and prescribes the practice of meditation as a path to wisdom and enlightenment. It is a short prayer which is generally chanted during the morning services or other occasions such as funerals. The orginal calligraphy featuring the Heart Sutra was donated by Professor Jao, a scholar and academic, and a commemorative plaque displays his biography and academic achievements.
The Wisdom Path is well-marked, you will see signs from the Monastery or the Big Buddha.
How to get to the Po Lin Monastery?
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 Monastery are easy to follow. Here's how to get to Ngong Ping.
If paying a visit to the Hong Kong Big Buddha, the Monastery is a five-minute walk away, making it one of the easiest of Hong Kong Temples to visit, don't miss the chance!
More to see around the Monastery...
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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