A visit to Big Buddha, or Tian Tan Buddha, is regarded as a must when you visit Hong Kong.
The impressive Buddha statue, erected in 1993, sits 34 meters high (that’s 111.55 feet) as a landmark atop a hill amongst superabundant green vegetation. Clouds swirl around Buddha then swoop into the valley below. It’s like Mother Nature dancing before your eyes. One of my best memories during my visit was the fast-moving clouds that engulfed me as I wandered the site.
The majestic statue draws pilgrims from all over Asia as well as numerous tourists such as myself on this day. And, despite the constant chatter and selfie-takers, the setting is rather peaceful. There is a calm brought about merely by nature itself.
The cable car itself is called Ngong Ping 360. You’re promised an inspiring 25-minute cable car ride to Big Buddha. Without a doubt or hesitation, I can say the ride exceeds anyone’s wildest expectations. In fact, I’d go as far to say the cable car ride to Big Buddha is the best part of the experience.
The cable car smoothly soars through the air high above rolling lush green mountainside that seems to never end. The panoramic vistas of Lantau Island, and well beyond, are a feast for the eyes. If you love natural landscapes as much as I do, you’re sure to be delighted. As an added bonus, the cable car drifts through low lying clouds for an ethereal experience. It’s entirely possible the smile on my face stretched from ear to ear during the ride. I felt at peace as if nothing was wrong in the world. You can see bits of the cable car ride in the videos in this post.
Ngong Ping Cable Car is 5.7 kilometres (3.5 miles) long. The cable car system consists of eight towers which the gondolas pass through on their way from Tung Chung and Ngong Ping, where the Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha are located.
Big Buddha faces north towards Mainland China. It sits atop a lotus throne and its official name is Tian Tan Giant Buddha. The statue sits on a three-story alter modelled after the base structure found in the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. the body of Buddha is made up of 160 bronze pieces. The head of Big Buddha is modelled after statues in the Longmen Grottoes. The Tian Tan Buddha was forged using bronze and gold, which glitters and glows under sunlight. And finally, the legs of Buddha sits in the same position assumed by Sakyamuni Buddha when he attained enlightenment under the famous bodhi tree.
The eyes, lips, the incline of the head and right hand, which is raised to deliver a blessing to all, combine to bring a humbling depth of character and dignity to the massive Buddha. It took twelve (12) years to complete Tian Tan Giant Buddha. As a visitor, expect to climb a healthy 268 steps for a closer look at this stunning statue. Savour the feeling when the clouds flurry around you and enjoy the sweeping mountain views that can be seen from the base of Big Buddha.
Opposite the statue, you’ll find the Po Lin Monastery. Po Lin is one of Hong Kong’s most important sanctums and is often referred to as “the Buddhist World in the South.” The monastery is home to many a monk and is rich with colourful representations of Buddha throughout. Stroll through the beautiful garden to simply take in the scenery.
If you enjoy photography or videography, this is a journey you’ll want to experience. There are numerous photo opportunities and the brilliant part is you’ll capture Tian Tan Buddha from various perspectives.
I visited the area via a structured tour, which I don’t recommend. What I dislike about most organized tours are time restraints and the rush to get from point A to point B. Make your way on your own or organize a private guide so you can enjoy the day and the experience at your leisure.
Where Is Ngong Ping 360 and Big Buddha (Tian Tan Buddha)? 22.2540° N, 113.9050° E
Map Showing The Location of Ngong Ping 360 and Big Buddha in Hong Kong