Tian Tan Buddha
A few years before the Hong Kong handover to China, a large Buddha statue was completed on Lantau Island. This was the Tian Tan Buddha whose base was modeled after the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China. It is also popularly known as the Big Buddha or Hong Kong Big Buddha.
As soon as it was completed, it became one of the most important tourist sites in Hong Kong. Work on the Buddha started in 1990 and was officially presented to the public on 29 Dec 1993 in a ceremony attended by Buddhist leaders of different traditions from all over the world.
At 34 meters, the Tian Tan Buddha is one of the largest outdoor sitting Buddha in the world and resting on a hilltop; the Buddha is visible from many directions and from afar.
Visiting the Tian Tan Buddha
From the base, visitors have to climb 240 steps to reach the lotus throne of the Buddha. Moving up the steps, the Buddha appears at varying angles to the visitors and at the front of the lotus throne, visitors see a majestic yet serene Buddha whose right hand shows a “no fear” mudra while the left hand shows a “wish granting” mudra. Surrounding the Buddha is sculptures of six devas making offerings of different items to the Buddha.
Visitors need to buy a ticket to enter the base of the Buddha statue. Inside are three halls with different exhibits. Most visitors especially the Buddhist visitors will pay respect to the Buddha’s relic enshrined within.
Buddha and the city
Visitors to Hong Kong should make a visit to the Tian Tan Buddha. Hong Kong is a prosperous city with many entrepreneurs who collectively contributed to an economic miracle. Hong Kong is a shopping paradise famous for its shopping as well as luxury and branded goods. Not to mention many food, night spots and entertainment opportunities. It is a vibrant and exciting city full of energy.
The noise, light and color of the busy city seem to eclipse the spiritual side of Hong Kong and the Tian Tan Buddha can be said to be that spiritual side of Hong Kong.
The spiritual side of Hong Kong
A large project like the Tian Tan Buddha cannot be the work of an individual. It is the collectively work of a society and its stakeholders. The successful construction of the Buddha reflects that spiritual side of Hong Kong.
It is an amazing feel to stand in front of the Big Buddha enjoying the scenery, the nature and the serenity knowing that the busy and exciting city is just a very short train ride away.
To visit Hong Kong and not visit the Tian Tan Buddha is like seeing only half of Hong Kong, an incomplete picture.