Island on the Ngong Ping plateau, lies one of the most
frequently visited sights in Hong Kong - the Po Lin Monastery.
There's enough to see and do in and around the monastery to consume a vacation day or more, so plan ahead.
The trip there is an adventure in itself. Take the MTR (the excellent Hong Kong subway system) to Tung
Chung. Outside at the bus terminal, board the No. 23. The ride can take an hour or longer and winding your
way up the mountainside provides a pair of delights. Riders get to see some of the superb countryside and seaside near Hong Kong and at the
same time experience the harrowing joy of a typical Chinese rollercoaster bus ride.
Originally founded in 1924 as a sanctuary for Buddhist monks, the Po
offers the visitor superb sights both inside and out. The view from the
out over the sea and mountainside is breathtaking.
You'll be free to look around at the exterior, which provides a
superior example of the architecture and art of that period and style.
The monastery is awash with small statues and inscriptions. The
surrounding grounds make it easy to imagine the tranquility that
motivated the monks to make it their home.
You can experience a small taste of that lifestyle for yourself by
purchasing a meal ticket and enjoying the vegetarian lunch prepared by
the monks in the dining hall.
Inside the temple, it isn't necessary to remove your shoes, nor to wear
long pants as required by Buddhist temples elsewhere. Simply acquire an
incense stick and offer three bows to the ancestors who watch over the
monks and their sacred building. Place your incense sticks in the
holder and then enjoy the many colorful and intricate carvings and
Visitors can even stay overnight and see the rising sun the next
morning. The view of the light spilling onto Fong Wong Shan Mountain,
twice the height of Victoria Peak,
has inspired the monks for decades
in their peaceful retreat.
From the temple gate, look out toward the top of Muyushan Mountain.
You'll be able to clearly make out a large copper statue of the seated
Sakyamuni, reaching 26 meters (85 feet) high. Sakyamuni was the
(Tibet) god and the historical Buddha.
Here known as Tian Tan
or The Big Buddha,
the statue was constructed
over a steel frame and completed in 1993 after a 10-year construction
effort. It sits atop the plateau, reached by climbing 268 steps.
Stand at the base and take in the setting first. Around the pedestal is
a three-story exhibition hall containing a large bell. Rung 108 times
per day, it is said to relieve the 108 vexations. As you listen to the
chimes, you can take in the many finely carved Buddhist figures.
Then walk up and glance around to take in the view the Buddha has, from
an island twice the size of Hong Kong itself. You'll begin to feel,
perhaps, as the monks do about Lantau Island
and the Po Lin Monastery.