Culture & Leisure

The journey of enlightenment

In almost 25 years, the Tian Tan Buddha, the biggest outdoor seated bronze statue of Gautama Buddha on Lantau Island, has become one of the most visited places in Hong Kong.

Every day, hundreds of visitors climb 268 steps up to reach the top of the Big Buddha to appreciate the relic of the Enlightened teacher and enjoy the panoramic view over Lantau Island. Inside of the pedestal, both visitors and monks worship the Buddha in the exhibition hall.
A humble gaze, an incline of the head and the Buddha's raised right-hand show the dignity with which the Buddha greets and blesses his guests. The uniqueness of this bronze Buddha is that it faces the north while other well-known Buddha statues face the south. It took 12 years to complete this massive statue.
The Six Devas surround the Buddha and pose offering flowers, incense, lamp, ointment, fruit, and music to him, representing the Six Perfections: patience, meditation, generosity, morality, diligence and wisdom. Each of them is necessary for the Enlightenment.
Opposite to the statue, the Po Lin Monastery, one of the most important Buddhist sanctums in Hong Kong, is a home to hundreds of monks who devote their lives to reach the Enlightenment and preach teachings of the Buddha. The Po Lin Monastery is also a popular dining spot to enjoy vegetarian cuisine among tourists.
Facing the Po Lin Monastery, an ornamental archway New Pai Lau leads to the Bodhi Path. The path is lined with the statues of the Twelve Divine Generals considered as the guard in Buddhism and represent the twelve Chinese zodiac signs. Visitors with different cultural backgrounds also join religious ceremonies to know more about the Enlightenment at the Earth Temple.
Tourist family from Kazakhstan enjoying their journey to the Tian Tan Buddha. "We think that Ngong Ping represents not only the richness of Chinese culture but also shows how people from different countries are interested in learning about the Enlightenment," said Ms Lazzat.
Besides sightseeing at Ngong Ping, tourists explore various handmade goods and taste affordable and delicious food bought from street vendors. Handmade hats woven from traditional materials and colourful postcards are one of the most famous souvenirs among tourists.
There are several stray dogs living in the statue area, looking like the protectors of the Buddha.
It's not a surprise to see an ox wandering along the path. Tourists pat and take selfies with those that roam around freely, despite some signs cautioning visitors not to approach the cattle.
The Enlightenment Journey ends with the Wisdom Path, a series of 38 giant wooden pillars containing poetries from the Heart of Sutra and arranged in infinity pattern. "This is my favourite hiking trail. I love to finish the hike by meditating on the Wisdom path," said Mr Wong who hiked up the Lantau Peak.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) is an English news publication produced by international journalism students at Hong Kong Baptist University. It started as a printed magazine in 1969. Today, TYR is produced across different platforms.

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