Seated peacefully atop a lotus flower, the Tian Tan Buddha dominates the valley on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. Although its size is average compared to some of the world’s most massive Buddhas, the Tian Tan Buddha holds the distinction of being the largest seated bronze Buddha in the world.
Ignoring its size completely, the statue seems more impressive due to its location, in a valley surrounded by densely forested peaks. At 112 feet (34 meters) high, the Buddha can even be seen through the mountains from nearby Macau on a clear day. With eyes closed and right hand raised, the Buddha’s calm and wise appearance seems to control the energy of the valley.
The Buddha was constructed between 1990-1993. Adventure-seekers climb the 268 steps to the Buddha’s feet, but the monastery does not discriminate; a ramped path makes the trip up to Buddha’s pedestal accessible for families and the handicapped.
The path to the Big Buddha is lined on both sides by the Twelve Divine Generals, each of them symbolizing a different animal from the Chinese Zodiac. Every General is armed with a specific weapon and represents two hours of the day, thus, together they add up to 24 hours.
Although access to the site is free, entrance to the Buddha costs money. The inside of the Buddha allegedly holds the cremated remains of the Buddha inside a relic, but even a quick view is going to cost you.
Know Before You Go
Take the Ngong Ping 360 cable car.