Despite its record breaking height, the Buddha remains a largely undiscovered wonder of the world hiding away in a remote part of China’s Henan province. On the day the lone traveller arrived, there were only a handful of visitors all day – and no other western visitors. The fact that the statue is a 2 hour bus journey from the nearest town of Lushan, and with Lushan itself being a small town far from anywhere else, the statue may remain in hiding for a while yet.
Location: Fodushan Scenic Area,Lushan County, Henan,China
Construction: Started on 1998 and was completed on 1 September 2008
Total Height: 208 meters (including base)
Project Total Cost: 55 million dollars
Situated in what is known as the Fodushan Scenic Area, the Buddha clearly stands out as the main attraction. However there are a couple of other smaller things to see – the Foquan Temple below the statue, the Bell of Good Luck, and for the really adventurous the Yaoshan Fuquan hot spring centre.
The Spring Temple Buddha derives its name from the nearby Tianrui hot spring, which spews water at 60°C and is renowned in the area for its curative properties. The Foquan Temple, built during the Tang dynasty, houses the “Bell of Good Luck”, placed on top of Dragon Head peak. This bronze bell weighs 116 tonnes, which is said to be the heaviest functioning bell in the world, and is adorned with 36 lotus patterns.
The Buddha itself is huge – it is made from 108kg of gold, 3,300 tonnes of copper alloy and 15,000 tonnes of steel, and for an additional cost visitors can go right up and touch its toes to really get a feel for just how large it is. To reach the statue there are two large sets of stairs to climb – each with 365 steps. Additionally, once inside the lower building there are more stairs. In total you will be walking up over 1000 stairs.
The construction of the Spring Temple Buddha was announced after the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan by the Taliban in 2001, which was condemned by the Chinese government at the time. The statue was completed in 2008. Further plans were then announced to create the two buildings underneath the statue – the Diamond Seat and the Sumeru Seat, by literally reshaping the hill on which the statue stands. Finally, the stairs up to the statue were built. As of 2014, both the Diamond and Sumeru seats are externally finished but internally under construction. It seems that the entire area was constructed with the expectation of enormous numbers of visitors. Perhaps the low visitor numbers are the reason why these two buildings remain in an incomplete state.
The height of statue including its lotus throne was 128 metres. The 25 metres high pedestal on which the statue is placed gave it a total height of 153 metres. After addition of “Diamond Seat” and the “Sumeru Seat” the total height of statue will become 208 meters.
The Diamond Seat is an interesting building itself. It is made up of five levels, each containing many small shrines holding small scaled-down golden Spring Temple Buddhas. There are over 5,000 shrines containing 6,666 mini Buddhas. Although as of 2014 the internal construction of the Diamond Seat building is incomplete, tickets are available to enter it and catch a lift up to the top of the lotus pedestal, where visitors can touch the toes of the great Buddha.
The Spring Temple Buddha was the world’s largest statue until November 2018, and has been listed in the Guinness World Records. Depicting the Vairocana Buddha.