TIAN TAN BUDDHA, LANTAU ISLAND HONG KONG
Cast in bronze and seated on a lotus leaf overlooking Po Lin Monastery on the island that also hosts Hong Kong Disneyland, this is one of the world's largest al-fresco bronze Buddhas, a 34-metre sumo weighing in at 250 tonnes. The statue's raised right hand signifies that this is the Protection Buddha, protection from fear, delusion and anger, a pose attributed to the Gautama Buddha after he attained enlightenment.
THE GREAT BUDDHA OF KAMAKURA JAPAN
Originally housed in a hall that was destroyed twice in the 14th Century, the great Buddha at Kotoku-in Temple dates from 1252 during the Kamakura Period. Photo: iStock
In the grounds of Kotokuin Temple in the coastal city south of Tokyo, the bronze statue measures just 11.4 metres yet its magnetism is immense. This is the Amida Buddha, the "Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life", a version found mainly in East Asian Buddhist philosophy. Cast in 1252, the statue originally stood inside a temple that was destroyed by a tsunami in the 15th century, and exposure to the elements has only enhanced the statue's presence. See japan.travel
LESHAN GIANT BUDDHA, SICHUAN CHINA
Carved from a cliff face in the rugged hills of the Mount Emei Scenic Area, this is the world's largest stone Buddha, at 71 metres high. Intensely weathered and sprouting a green mantle of vegetation, the 1200-year-old statue is surrounded by walkways and viewing platforms that offer close-up views of the head. The Buddha is the work of a Chinese monk, hoping to calm the turbulent waters of the Minjiang and Dadu rivers, at the foot of the statue.
GAL VIHARA, POLONNARUWA SRI LANKA
The beautiful statue of the Reclining Buddha carved in stone at the Gal Vihara, a rock temple situated in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa in North Central Province, Sri Lanka. Photo: iStock
This ancient site at the heart of Sri Lanka is home to several magnificent Buddhist statues carved from granite but the largest is the 14-metre reclining Buddha. Created in the 12th century and once part of a Buddhist monastery, these statues represent the finest achievement of Sinhalese rock carving. The statue is decorated with lotus flowers symbolising purity and its parinirvana pose indicates the Buddha in post-enlightenment phase.
WAT PHO, BANGKOK THAILAND
Reclining Buddha Statue at Wat Pho, Bangkok. Photo: iStock
Housed in an ornate temple in a complex near Bangkok's Grand Palace, this 46-metre reclining Buddha is an object of veneration for Thailand's Buddhists. The statue, which depicts the Buddha in reclining lion pose, is made from brick covered with plaster which has been covered in gold leaf and polished to achieve a lustrous sheen. The soles of the 4.5 metre feet are a notable feature; they're inlaid with mother-of-pearl depicting the characteristics of the Buddha.
LAYKYUN SEKKYA, MONYWA MYANMAR
Located to the west of Mandalay, this 116-metre white and gold whopper is the world's third largest statue, dwarfing New York City's Statue of Liberty. Inside are 31 floors corresponding to the 31 planes of existence in Buddhist theology, with colourful imagery illustrating the truly gruesome fates that await the ungodly. At its feet is the world's largest walk-through reclining Buddha, measuring 90 metres from top to toe.
USHIKU DAIBUTSU BUDDHA, USHIKI JAPAN
Standing tall at 120 metres, weighing 4000 tonnes, this was the world's tallest statue when it was constructed in 1993, subsequently downgraded to fourth place by two other Buddhist statues and India's colossal Statue of Unity. Visitors can take an elevator to the viewing gallery at a height of 85 metres, with views as far as Tokyo, 50 kilometres to the south-west. The statue's third-floor gallery contains more than 3000 gold Buddha images. See japan.travel
BUDDHA DORDENMA STATUE, THIMPHU BHUTAN
Set on a hilltop overlooking the capital of Bhutan, this 51-metre bronze behemoth was built as a blessing to bestow peace and happiness upon the world. Inside the meditation hall below the statue are thousands of Buddha images and some fine mandalas, while the statue's chest contains 125,000 miniature Buddhas. Gilded with gold leaf, the statue is at its dramatic best when it's illuminated at night, emphasising its golden lustre.
LINGSHAN GREAT BUDDHA, WUXI CHINA
With a smile as enigmatic as the Mona Lisa's, this 88-metre bronze statue towers above the forests of the Mount Lingshan Scenic Area, about a 90-minute drive to the west of Shanghai. The standing statue is cast in the abhaya pose, right hand raised and facing outwards, signifying fearlessness and protection. Below the statue is a Buddhist theme park - Brahma Palace, the Five Mudra Mandala and the Nine Dragons Bathing Sakyamuni.
GREAT BUDDHA OF GIFU, JAPAN
One of Japan's three Great Buddha Statues, this 13.7 metre Buddha is also one of the few giant Buddhas located inside a prayer hall. Completed in 1832, the Gifu Buddha is constructed from clay applied over a bamboo lattice which is supported by ginkgo wood. The clay was covered with rice paper decorated with Buddhist scriptures and finally a layer of lacquer to which gold leaf has been applied. See japan.travel