No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a visit to the Giant Tian Tan Buddha and the Po Lin Monastery so we got on the MTR in Central and got off at the Tung Chung Station to get there. Then we walked over to the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car, and took it up the hill to the Giant Buddha who was sitting serenely on top of the Ngong Ping plateau, looking down on the mountain scenery of Lantau Island.
Originally, the Buddhist monastery was built by three monks and was initially called Da Maopeng. In 1924, however, it was renamed Po Lin Monastery. About 70 years later, the Po Lin Monastery has become one of the most renowned and most popular destinations in Hong Kong.
The statue is named Tian Tan Buddha because its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It is one of the five large Buddha statues in China. Six smaller bronze statues known as “The Offering of the Six Devas” surround it. The offerings symbolize charity, morality, patience, zeal, meditation, and wisdom, all of which are necessary to enter into nirvana.
We got a decent workout as we climbed the 268 steps to reach where the Buddha resides. Once there, we had a beautiful view of Lantau Island and we visited the Buddha both inside and out.
From Po Lin Monastery it's a short walk to the Wisdom Path, an outdoor replica of the centuries old Heart Sutra, one of the world’s best-known prayers that is revered by Confucians, Buddhists and Taoists alike. The sutra is displayed on wooden pillars placed in the form of a figure 8 to symbolize the idea of immeasurable splendor and infinity.
After all the hiking up stairs and walking the Wisdom Path, we were ready to stop at the Po Lin monastery’s restaurant for a lunch of vegetarian dishes made by Buddhist monks. Refilled and refreshed, we continued exploring and then hiked back to Tung Chung on a beautiful nature trail, which was a nice way to end our viewing of the Giant Tian Tan Buddha. Highly recommended!