Table of Contents
1. Tian Tan Buddha
The Tian Tan Buddha and Po Lin Monastery are located on Lantau Island, one of the 260 odd islands making up Hong Kong. I was in Hong Kong for a couple of weeks on business which overlapped a public holiday so I had a long weekend to myself to explore and headed out of the city. While Lantau is an island it’s connected to mainland Hong Kong by a bridge so no boat trips are required.
The Tian Tan Buddha is a statue of Amoghasiddhi Buddha who represents the wisdom of perfect practice and overcoming the poison of envy. He is shown with his right hand raised in blessing.
2. Cardio workout before lunch
There are 268 steps leading up to the Great Buddha from the Poh Lin Monastery below. There are plenty of wide landings to give you space to stop and look around or pretend to take a photo or admire the view while you actually catch your breath.
Technically you don’t need to walk up, there are plenty of buses going that way but it’s just one of those things you’ll regret if you don’t do it. It really is quite impressive climbing the stairs as the Buddha gets more and more impressive in front of you.
BTW it’s way steeper than it looks so I felt I earned my lunch!
3. The Offerings of the Six Devas
There are 6 smaller bronze statues around the base holding up their offerings. These are known as ‘the offerings of the 6 Devas’. The offerings and their symbolism are flowers (charity), incense (morality), lamp (patience), ointments (zeal), fruit (meditation) and music (wisdom), all requirements for entry to nirvana.
4. Wonderful views from the top
From the platforms around the Great Buddha, there are excellent views of the monastery and town below. Unfortunately, photos are often hazy due to the smog levels in Hong Kong. On the day we went it wasn’t clear but you could see into the hills and for a reasonable distance.
5. Po Lin Monastery Gate
The formal gate to Poh Lin Monastery is very impressive. Normally you are able to enter through the gate to the temple but it was roped off when we arrived. Once we got inside we realised there was an ordination ceremony taking place that day and possibly that was the reason.
6. Ordination Ceremony
A ceremony was taking place at the temple of Po Lin Monastery. We were fortunate in our timing in arriving at the monastery as the novices and monks waited there before entering the temple. There were clearly some proud family members in the crowd.
7. The Monastery Temple
With an official ceremony underway, we weren’t able to enter the temple itself. I joined an organised tour on this day because I was travelling alone and as usual wished I had made my own travel arrangements. While I enjoyed meeting a few people and exchanging travel stories I would have liked to stay here longer. In reality, I’m much better to set my own pace and accept that I don’t go as many places in a day but I do get to really experience them.
8. A top spot for lunch
The lunch at Po Lin Monastery restaurant was exceptional. On the tour we had the deluxe lunch included, our group were seated together at large tables but there were options for couples and smaller groups. The service was efficient and the food absolutely wonderful. I’d definitely recommend planning your day around having a meal there and going with the deluxe menu option which was still extremely good value.
NB: It’s a monastery so the food is fully vegetarian.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to Po Lin and would definitely return to Lantau on a future trip but next time allow myself to explore on my own. Some of the walking trails over here looked really good too.
Do you enjoy visiting religious sites of other cultures in your travels?