Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

One Buddhist built this impressive collection of nearly 13,000 Buddhas as a temple displaying his devotion.

North of Tsim Sha Tsui in Sha Tin you’ll find a labor of love created in the 1950s by a devout Buddhist. While he was not a monk, Yuet Kai was so strongly dedicated to his faith that he brought together nearly 13,000 statues of Buddha at the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery.

The site is not a working monastery, but instead a place to be surrounded by physical images of the Buddhist spirit. The collection ranges from traditional to eclectic, from tiny Buddhas the size of a thumb to a Buddha sitting on a large blue lion. Look for statues that are colorfully painted with ornate clothing and hair styles while others are painted bright gold with peaceful Lotus poses or wearing warrior costumes. All are one-of-a-kind pieces.

Look in the main hall for the preserved body of Yuet Kai. Reflect upon the intense commitment that one man had in creating such an impressive collection on this 20-acre (8-hectare) site.

Climb Buddha-lined stairs to reach four pavilions, five temples, an outdoor terrace and a pagoda housing the bulk of the collection. Check your wallet for a 100 HKD banknote printed by HSBC from 1985 to 2002; the back side will show the pagoda set against a forested hill. For even more exercise, climb the nine-story pagoda to look out over the skyscrapers and wilderness of Sha Tin and the New Territories. If you spot wild monkeys in the trees on your climb or descent, pause to watch their antics and take photos or video, but do not feed them.

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery is in Sha Tin, reachable by the MTR East line, roughly a 20-minute ride from Tsim Sha Tsui. Note that the walk to the site is uphill and there are over 400 steps to get to the temple rooms containing the majority of the Buddha statues; bring good shoes, water and perseverance. Visit in the morning when there is no forecasted rain. The temple is free and open daily.

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