10 Incredible Buddha Statues – The History Of Buddhism

The history of Buddhism is the story of one man’s spiritual journey to Enlightenment, and of the teachings and ways of living that developed from it. According to historians The Buddha, or Siddhartha Gautama, was born around 567 B.C.E., in a small kingdom just below the Himalayan foothills. His father was a chief of the Shakya clan. There are different opinions as to the dates of Siddhartha’s Gautama’s life, historians have  dated his birth and death as circa 566-486 BCE but more recent research suggests that he lived later than this, from around 490 BCE until circa 410 BCE. Sources state when Siddhartha eventually married he left the royal enclosure where he lived and saw an elderly man who was unwell, this apparently upset Siddhartha and he decided after  meeting a monk that it was his calling that he should leave his royal life and live as a holy man.

“It is better to travel well than to arrive”

Buddha

Over many years Siddhartha travelled around and studied with religious men and tried to find a way to escape death, old age, pain and suffering, but was unable to find the answers. He then went on to meet An Indian ascetic who encouraged him to follow a disciplined life, he started to meditate and even after six years, this still did not provide Siddhartha with the answers he was looking for. He gave up this lifestyle and lived the “middle way” by neither following the life of poverty or luxury. One day he sat beneath a Bodi tree otherwise known as (the tree of awakening) and he practiced meditation and reflected on life. It is said that this led him to achieve the enlightenment he was looking for and he became Buddha. The Mahabodhi Temple is the site where it is said buddha found his enlightenment and today it is a pilgrimage site. Legend says that Buddha was happy with this new found enlightenment but Brahma (king of the gods) asked him on behalf of the world to share his wisdom with others. This is when Buddha started to teach,  Buddha went on to teach many disciplines over the next 45 years of his life.

We have put together 10 places around Asia where you can see some spectacular Buddha’s. Which ones have you seen or want to see? Let us know in the comments below. 

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Giant Buddha, Leshan, China

The Leshan Giant Buddha is a statue of Maitreya in sitting posture. The Buddha is located to the east of Leshan City, Sichuan Province, near the three rivers, Min, Qingyi, and Dadu. It is the most scenic and visited spot in the city. In 1996 the Buddha was made into a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Buddha is 71 meters high. It was built in the year 713 in the Tang Dynasty and completed in year 803. According to sources it took over 90 years to carve the sculpture. It is said to be the biggest carved Buddha in the world.

Wat Phra That Doi Kham (Golden Temple), Chiang Mai

The Wat Phra That Doi Kham is  known for its 17 meters high Buddha image. The temple that was built towards the end of the 7th century sits on top of a forested hill just outside of Chiang Mai. The name of the Wat means golden mountain temple. Local legend states that two giants lived here that were cannibals and when Buddha visited he convinced them to give up cannibalism and take up Buddhism. The structure collapsed in 1966, after a period of heavy rainfall, and a number of Buddha images were found inside the damaged structure. The temple is located at the top of the hill and the views from the temple are magnificent from the top. A fantastic place to visit if you are in Chiang Mai.

Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand

Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha), or Wat Phra Chetuphon, is located behind the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and a must-do for any first-time visitor in Bangkok. It’s one of the largest temple complexes in the city and famous for its giant reclining Buddha that measures around 46 metres. it is located 12 minutes from the Grand Palace. Wat Po is also world renowned for its massage school. You can visit the temple between 9-5pm and entrance is about 100 Bhat. All visitors must wear appropriate clothing; this means no exposed shoulders or skin above the knee. It is recommended that you buy a bowl of coins at the entrance which you can drop into the  bronze bowls, and the funds go towards the up-keep of the temple.

The Daibutsu of Kamakura, Japan

The Great Buddha of Kamakura is a bronze statue of Amida Buddha, it height is about 11.5 meters and it is known as the second tallest bronze statue in japan. The original temples here were destroyed by typhoons and a tidal wave in the 14th and 15th centuries.

 

Phuket Big Buddha

Phuket’s Big Buddha is one of the most important and visited landmarks on the island. The gigantic statue is 45 metres tall and is located between Chalong and Kata. It can be seen from many parts of the island. Once you reach the top you will have the most fabulous 360 views of the island.

Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand

Wat Phra Si Rattanasasadaram, generally called the Temple of the Emerald Buddha in English or Wat Phra Gaeo in Thai, is a temple purpose-built to house a Buddha image carved from a large solid piece of green jadite. The Wat Phra Kaew is  located within the grounds of the Grand Palace in Bangkok is Thailand’s most sacred temple and an important pilgrimage site for Thai Buddhists.

Tian Tan Buddha Statue

The remote Po Lin Monastery is a popular attraction it sit’s 34 metres high the site attracts Chinese people, and  pilgrims from all over Asia. To get closer to the statue you will need to climb the 270 steps as well as to see the incredible sea and mountain views.

Gal Gal Viharaya, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

The Gal Vihara is a stone temple located in Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka, it is also a UNESCO World heritage site. It is said to have built between (1153-1186 A.C). Gal Vihara also has four cave shrines:

(a) Cave of Vijjadharas,
(b) Excavated Cave,
(c) Cave of Standing Image
(d) Cave of Reclining Image

There are many historical statues to see on this site and it is a must see place if you visit Sri Lanka.

 

Laughing Buddha, Vinh Trang Pagoda, Vietnam

Vinh Trang Pagoda dates back to 1849, it is a large,  Buddhist temple around one kilometre north of My Tho city’s centre and it’s worth the visit if you’re in town, especially during the early morning prayers. The site  brings together Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer and European architecture, and has various Buddha statues, including a large scale standing Amitabha, reclining Buddha and big bellied laughing Buddha. The temple does work with homeless and disadvantaged children. Admission is free, and donations are much welcome.

Wat Lokayasutharam, Ayutthaya

Wat Lokayasutharam is situated at Pratoochai District, behind the Ancient Palace. Wat Lokayasutharam is 800 meters from Wat Phra Mongkon Bophit. Wat Worachettharam and Wat Worapoh are also close by. The  feature of Wat Lokayasutharam is its is a huge reclining Buddha image, called Phra Bhuddhasaiyart, which faces to the east. it is made from bricks and is 37 metres long and 8 metres high.

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Showing 22 comments
  • Alice
    Reply

    OH wao. I’ve been to south east Asia so many times and somehow missed all of these amazing statues. It’s crazy to thing they have been built such a long time ago and required an amazing effort. I also find fascinating how Buddha is represented differently depending on the country!

    • Sinjana Ghosh
      Reply

      Amazing list and nice to read the history after so many years (Gautam Buddha’s taught in Indian schools). I will choose to see the giant Buddha in China,looks fascinating.
      You can also include the Buddha statue of Thimpu, in Bhutan, it’s a spectacle

  • Rahat Arora
    Reply

    Very nice post related to Buddhism and message of Lord Buddha to the society is very nice. These statues looks very nice

  • Alex Trembath
    Reply

    An excellent list! We have been travelling through south-east Asia for the last ten weeks or so and have seen quite a few of these. Vietnam next, so will have to add the Laughing Buddha to our plans!

    When we were cycling in Chiang Rai a couple of weeks ago we found a huge Buddha statue under construction, it looked like it would be incredible when it’s finished. I think it’s called Wat Huai Pla Kung. Maybe another one for the future 🙂

  • Julz
    Reply

    I love to visit religious sites – of all these you have mentioned I have only seen the 2 in Bangkok. So much to discover in the world!!! I was in Sri Lanka a few years back and visited the Temple in Kandy – it was an amazing experience, they also have a great museum about the history of Buddhism.

  • AMBER
    Reply

    This is such a different sort of post. I have barely been to different religious places outside of christianity. I would love to experience a lot of these, especially in Sri Lanka.

  • Kiara
    Reply

    Such a unique post thank you for sharing. I am planning another trip to Sri Lanka soon so will need to check out the statue there. Thanks!

  • Tif
    Reply

    Wow that information I never knew!! I am embarrassed to say I have never seen a Buddha! ??‍♀️But it is on my list once I travel back to Asia!! I would love to see the Tian Tan statue!!

  • Eva
    Reply

    Beautiful photos! Thank you so much for sharing! I’ve only been to the Golden Temple in Chiang Mai. If you ever get the chance, you should try to visit the Buddhist temple in Hong Kong. A billionaire spent about 1 or 2 billion HKD to build it. You need to make a reservation to visit because they only let a limited number of people in at each time to preserve the essence of the sanctuary. When it first opened, reservations sold out in minutes.

  • Michelle
    Reply

    I would love to visit some of these statues/temples. I haven’t been to Asia yet but it is definitely on my bucket list. I really like the laughing Buddha so I would love to see that one day.

  • Katie
    Reply

    Such an informative post! I’ve never been to this part of the world but would love to explore the. These statues always look so beautiful and peaceful thanks for the travel inspiration!!

  • Antonio Gabric
    Reply

    So many amazing statues around the world! My favorite one is the Giant Buddha from China! I have an amazing story with Big Buddha in Phuket. My friend and I planned to visit it when we were in Phuket, but unfortunately he fell from the bike and our adventure turned in a whole different direction. Anyway, we experienced so much that day and nothing serious happen to him! 🙂

  • Jyoti
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing the list of important Buddha statue sites. I’ve visited a few but now I have a list to refer and follow. Thanks!

  • Raghav
    Reply

    This is such a spectacular compilation of the Buddha statues. When it comes to idols I have always been fascinated by those of Buddha. The face has drawn me towards it with its peace and tranquillity and just looking at it always brings a sense of calm to my soul. I actually have a small Buddha statue in my garden and while not as big as the ones featured here, it’s a nice way to start the day, but just looking at him.

  • Debbie Graham
    Reply

    What a great post!
    We are heading to Thailand for the first time in July, so this “Revved” up my spirits.
    Love this quote: “It is better to travel well than to arrive” Buddha.
    Now, if I can just get my husband on board with this! Ha!

  • Nicole C
    Reply

    I love this post! I’ve always been intrigued by Buddhism and loves the info you provided! And those statues are on my bucket list!

  • Celia
    Reply

    This is such an insightful post. I’m living in Japan at the moment, where Buddhism is a big part of the culture. The statue at Kamakura you listed is awesome and easy to get to from Tokyo, but the one at Nara has to be the most impressive in the country!

  • Mehr
    Reply

    Just back from a Thailand trip, so got an opportunity to see a few of them. Their magnanimity is impressive. There was another one in Pai, Thailand which was worth being on this list.

  • Varsha
    Reply

    Wow, stunning photos and nice collection. `i had seen these photos individually so many times but to see them collectively really feels like incredible statues.

  • Reply

    Beautiful post of statues of Budha. It is incredible to get a chance to visit all the wonderful statues around the globe. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply

    What a nice post – makes me all dreamy and remembering my own trips. Meeting some old friends here: from Bangkok (love the one at Wat Pho), two in Ayutthaya etc. Lovely list!

  • Kathryn
    Reply

    These are amazing! I have seen some fairly spectacular ones throughout my travels through South-East Asia, I’ll have to add these to the list as well!

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