Po Lin Monastery, located on Ngong Ping pleateau of Lantau Island in Hong Kong is a pretty Buddhist monastery complex, located amidst beautiful surroundings. The star attraction of Po Lin monastery is ofcourse ‘The Big Buddha’ or Tian Tan Buddha and it is listed as one of the top 10 attractions of Hong Kong by Hong Kong Tourism Board itself. However, I found the monastery to be a serene & relaxing place on a leisurely stroll through the monastery after visiting The Big Buddha along with my friend (on my solo trip to Hong Kong). Sharing my experience of a visit to Po Lin Monastery in Lantau Island, Hong Kong.
The climb up the stairs to the Big Buddha statue is quite tedious (if not daunting) and after we came down, we were not really sure how long we should spend visiting the Po Lin Monastery complex. However, the prospect of a full vegetarian set meal at the Monastery Cafeteria was too tempting and me being the vegetarian traveller in Hong Kong, had to sample it.
One of the first things we noticed while walking towards the complex were these huge incense sticks burning; they are apparently offered by devotees and the air was almost foggy with the fumes arising from the sticks.
The Po Lin Monastery is said to be established in 1906 and the Big Buddha statue was only added in 1993. So the complex is fairly old and the architecture of the buildings are on the traditional Chinese lines. It was my friend Siddharth who brought to my notice the colourfully painted façade which almost goes un-noticed from a certain angle. The complex is sprawling and has many sections. The difference in the ambiance at the monastery (as compared to The Big Buddha Statue) is quite stark; while the crowd at the statue can get quite boisterous, at the monastery, it’s very serene and most visitors are those looking for a bit of quiet.
After rambling about for some time and admiring the architecture, beautifully manicured lawns and shrubbery, we ordered set tiffin from the Po Lin Monastery cafeteria. I was actually surprised by the taste of the various items on the menu; it wasn’t spicy at all, very mild and very filling.
We came out of the monastery after lunch and then proceeded to Ngong Ping 360 complex, which is a shopping complex and cable car system. Actually Ngong Ping 360 has been converted into family entertainment zone with shopping complex, ngong ping village walk, cable car ride etc, depending on time available, travellers can opt for any of the packages. We had booked the Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car ride online in advance for visiting the Big Buddha and it proved to be a great time saving decision which saved us queues while coming into Lantau Island (read here my travel guide on Ngong Ping 360).
I would definitely recommend a (leisurely) visit to Po Lin Monastery if you are already planning to visit Big Buddha when in Hong Kong.