Sunday, May 10, 2009

On Buddha's B'day at Lantau Island

Happy Birthday Dear Buddha.
Happy Birthday Dear Buddha.

A song that is favorite of Akshta and she insists others around her to follow her. At Lantau Island, reaching closer to Buddha statue, flags were fluttering, announcing Buddha's B'day week. That message was enough for Akshta to raise her already high level of adrenaline to climb 260 steps to reach for her b'day boy. The sight of 2 year old kid panting, stopping, moaning yet putting an extra effort of climbing after goading to rhyme the b’day song was great amusement to visitors around.

It wasn't an easy for us either. Being weekend, place was crowded. When we reached out of Tung Chung MTR, the board said '2 hour waiting time'. That sign was enough to delay our departure and instead chill us in the company of musical fountain. Akshta met 'mai', a girl from England who was traveling to Australia while being in transit in Hong Kong. A while later, board changed to ' 1 1/2 hour' But that sign was only up to the ticket booth. From there, to the cable point it took some more time. But at the end it was all worth it.

I am fortunate to have been to many holy places of Buddha. Nara in Japan, Anuradhapura & Kandy in Sri Lanka, Ayuthaya, Chiang Mai in Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, Myanmar and Sanchi . Tian Tan in Lantau Island in Ngong Ping may not be as holy site as others but it does make a great impression. Sitting 26 meters high and weighing 220 tons, it's the biggest outdoor Buddha statue. What impressed me is the art of making big size and yet creating a beautiful structure. No wonder it took them 10 years to perfect it. Most big statues look ugly at the close up but here Buddha looks magnificent as we approach him closer. Sitting in meditative pose with slight inclination and half opened eyes conveys the serenity and benevolence of this mystical figure.

One can reach the hill top by bus or foot or by cable car. We chose the most comfortable and enjoyable option. 5.7 Km long ride gives a very close view of Hong Kong Air strip, the mountain range and Tung Chung town. We were in for surprise when we got Indian Vegetarian food with Parle Frooti at the top. We did miss visit to Po Lin monastery but had little choice as the cable car doesn't run after 6pm.

Lantau Island is twice the size of Hong Kong Island and it was smart way to earn tourist revenue by perching giant Buddha on the mountain top. They created almost a theme park based on Buddha. There is a theater that shows 'The Tale of Monkey' from Jataka, there is a Bodhi tree albeit artificial, wisdom path where ancient prayers are inscripted on wooden columns. And this spiritual theme is not so far from another popular theme park - Hong Kong Disneyland.

Today is Vesak a name derived from Vaishaka. A day that commemorates the birth and enlightenment of Buddha and his Nirvana. I am glad I posted the article on Giant Buddha on this auspicious day.

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Anonymous Anu said...

Thank you for sharing such beautiful description and magnificent pictures of Lord Buddha - The Awakened One. Reminding humankind to the Buddha nature that exists in each individual and that all individuals have the potential to achieve enlightenment.

2:25 PM  
Anonymous ammamusic1 said...

I found your blogspot through WAYN. Thank you for helping me understand more about a place that I was lucky enough to visit recently. I enjoyed reading your most interesting article.


1:04 AM  

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