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”
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.