From the Lotus Pond, we continued our time in Kaohsiung with a visit to the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum. It was a bit of a trek to get there, and we had a few mishaps along the way, but it was well worth the time and effort it took to check it out.
Fo Guang Shan:
Once known as the Buddha Memorial Center, the Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial is a cultural and religious museum dedicated to educating visitors about Buddhist culture and tradition.
The mission of the museum is to:
- preserve and record human history
- protect the environment
- promote Buddhist arts
- facilitate new ideas through interactions at the museum.
Fo Guang Shan is a new Buddhist movement based in Taiwan, and the members refer to it as the International Buddhist Progress Society. The Fo Guang Shan Buddha Memorial is the largest Buddhist Monastery in Taiwan.
Bigger than Life:
When we arrived at the museum, we weren’t prepared for the magnitude of the big buddha statue. The museum and the grounds were impressive, but neither could compare with the buddha at the rear of the museum.
Depicting sakyamuni buddha, the Fo Guang Shan big buddha was completed in 2011, but took more than a year to cast. 1,800 tons of metal was used to create this masterpiece coming in at 40 meters high. The seat alone is 10 meters high, and altogether, the total height is 108 meters (108 is a lucky number in Buddhism). If you’re still not sure how big this statue is, 108 meters converts to 354 feet.
Along with an impressive statue, a beautiful museum, and picture-perfect grounds, there are 48 Underground Palaces that are not open for public access. These 48 palaces are essentially time capsules, and are used to store memories of the human race.
Each year, a ceremony is held to enshrine artifacts that are donated to the museum from around the world. Because one of the goals of the museum is to preserve human culture and faith, this is a very important and revered ceremony. A new underground palace is opened once every hundred years.
Our Visit to Fo Guang Shan:
We tried to catch the bus from the metro station, but couldn’t figure out where the bus stop actually was. Because we were running out of time, we ended up catching a taxi which brought us to the museum for 600 NTD (about 20 USD).
The taxi fare was worth it because by the time we got to the museum it was really dark, and we were only able to look at the big buddha for a few minutes before the main lights were turned off.
Like the Confucius Statue at Lotus Pond, pictures don’t do the buddha statue justice. It looked so grand and ominous with the spotlights shining on it, and no matter how many pictures I took, it somehow still looked tiny in my screen compared to the real thing.
Your Visit to Fo Guang Shan Museum & Big Buddha Statue:
A few blogs I read recommend that you go earlier in the day, but I thought that seeing the statue at night was incredible. It’s really up to personal preference, but if you decide to go at night, make sure you get there before they turn off the lights!
Going in the daytime has its benefits however, and there is a lot that we weren’t able to explore because the museum was starting to shut down for the night.
If you have time, eat at one of their many beautiful tea houses, read more about the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist movement at the museum, and take lots of pictures of the big buddha.
Monday to Friday: 9 am – 7 pm (Main Hall closes at 6 pm)
Weekends & Public Holidays: 9 am – 8 pm (Main Hall closes at 7 pm)
Taking a bus is much cheaper than a taxi, and we ended up paying about 3 USD/each to get back to the HSR station.