It has been almost five years since I’ve last visited the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, so it was due for a revisit. This time, I took Lina along and therefore I decided to walk up in cool January rather than humid April (like last time).
I knew that the path to the monastery is hidden behind a government building near IKEA and it looks very plain and simple (it is just a simple fence and a paved walkway). Not like the cemetery next door which boasts a big entrance and even an escalator as well as lift to climb uphill. No, the way to the real monastery means that you have to climb the mountain yourself!
About 500 unique golden statues (plastic, painted gold) line both sides of the slope, and they all look different. They are grouped together, so the ones standing are all next to each other. So are the ones seating on boxes, and the ones seating on chairs, and the ones seating on animals etc. but apart from that, they are all different.
After about 400 steps uphill you have reached the monastery itself – and that’s where the 10,000 buddhas are actually placed. There are 12-13,000 miniature Buddha statues housed in the main temple among glittering lights – but you can’t take any pictures inside.
The monastery was founded in the 1949 by the Reverend Yuet Kai, a Buddhist preacher originally from China, and it took 18 years to complete the buildings with its thousands of Buddha statues. Yuet Kai died in 1965 at the age of 87, but his embalmed and gold-painted body, complete with ceremonial robes, can still be seen, seated in front of the altar inside the main temple building, surrounded by the thousands of Buddha figures from which the site takes its name.
Outside the main temple are some miraculous statues – floating, stretching arms and legs – as well as a nine-story pagoda. I don’t think you can enter it, but you don’t need to. The views from the main temple area are stunning already:
From the main temple area, you should continue upwards to check out even more life-size statues, and a few interesting temples too. The temples feature mythological scenes, miniatures and larger than life icons: deities riding their mounts and waging war, or calmly meditating and blessing worshipers.
At the far corner is an area with golden statues dotted around the landscape – I found this to be very charming but also very relaxing. This part was very quiet (well the whole monastery was quiet during a weekday visit, there were only a handful of other people) and we stayed there for a while. There is a pond with turtles as well, which Lina found quite interesting.
How to get to the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery, rather than the Po Fook Hill Ancestral Halls (which are next door):
- Take the East Rail Line to the Sha Tin stop
- Go out Exit B
- Go left outside the exit and walk down the pedestrian ramp
- Follow Pui Tau Street toward the left.
- Cross the street here and go to the left
- When you see the Sha Tin Government Building turn right and walk down the street (if you walked passed the Sha Tin Government Building, you will see the white cemetery entrance with the escalator and stairs – that’s the wrong place)
- At the end of the street (passed the shopping building and IKEA, the underground parking) you will start to see the golden buddhas as you start up the hill – and it’s a long climb, around 20 minutes at least. Take your time and some water with you!