Buddha is a fairly unique religious symbol in the sense that he’s been the centerpiece of a religion for pretty much the longest of all the modern deities. Buddhism is currently the fourth-largest religion with about 520 million followers all over the world. It was first started in India and that’s still the region of the world we’re looking at to find the most Buddhist people.
Anyway, contrary to some other religions, Buddhism has little issue with depicting their God. In fact, Buddha has loads of statues and even tourist trinkets shaped into his typical image. If you want to spend your next holiday traveling the Earth for some of the best Buddha statues you can find, take a look below.
Giant Buddha, Leshan, China
This Buddha’s literally made of rocks. The statue was initially built to guide ships through the river’s currents but only finished 90 years after its initial construction in 713BC because the builder ran out of funds.
The Great Buddhas of Monywa, Myanmar
A marvelous pair of Buddha statues, aren’t they? They’re both about 100 meters tall and the reclining one actually has a collection of 9000 etchings that illustrate Buddha’s life. There’s a door you can enter in the statue’s backside where you can view all the etchings.
Reclining Buddha, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand
Well, this Buddha is reclining, alright. Perhaps not the most usual modeling position, but a gorgeous statue nonetheless. Wat Pho is one of the oldest and biggest temples in Bangkok. The gold-plated statue actually has the 108 characteristics of the true Buddha on the soles of the feet.
The Daibutsu of Kamakura, Japan
A more serious Buddha, this one. This massive bronze statue has stood the test of time since 1252. He even survived a tsunami in the 15th century – but the tsunami did wipe away his temple. He’s now surrounded by cherry blossoms, which isn’t too bad either.
Laughing Buddha, Vinh Trang Pagoda, Vietnam
Bo Dai, as this version of Buddha is named, is very popular with children because of his massive grin. While the temple is as serene as you’d expect from a place a worship, Bo Dai nicely contrasts this.
Fo Guang Shan, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Perhaps one of the more famous Buddha statues out there. It’s no surprise this site is the biggest Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. It’s the headquarters of humanistic Buddhism and the monastery – with the impressive Amitabha Buddha on top – is part of a huge 30 hectare site.
Buddha Dordenma Statue, Thimphu, Bhutan
You don’t find depictions of Buddha standing up a lot, huh? This statue is made of bronze gilded with gold, which basically means it’s wickedly expensive to make. An ancient prophecy claimed that once a statue was built in this valley, it would spread peace around the world.
Hussain Sagar Buddha Statue, Lake Hyderabad, India
Well, spoke too soon. This Buddha is standing upright and waving at people passing by. This Gautama Buddha statue was actually inspired by the Statue of Liberty and is made out of solid white granite. Construction was so difficult that they actually had to widen the streets to allow the workers to get the materials on the water via a concrete platform!
Dhyana Buddha Statue, Amaravathi, India
This is probably the most famous one, right? This statue has a museum underneath the base where you can find all sorts of Buddhist sculptures and a theme park should be opened to the public soon-ish right in front of the statue.
Tian Tan Buddha Statue, Hong Kong
This Buddha is surrounded by other statues that bring him offerings. This statue symbolizes the harmony between man, nature and faith. The bronze statue is pretty recent – it was only constructed in 1993.
Tathagata Tsal Statue, Buddha Park of Ravangla, India
This temple and statue look like they cost quite a penny. The statue was consecrated by the Dalai Lama in 2013, right after construction had finished. This statue of the Gautama Buddha marks his birth 2550 years earlier, which I guess explains the festive style the statue has.
Ling Shan Great Buddha, Mashan, China
Imagine walking up that huge flight of stairs (there’s 99 of them) and seeing the statue become bigger and bigger as you approach it – amazing! The 700 ton bronze statue is actually the centerpiece of a Buddhist theme park deep in the Longshan mountains.
Bongeunsa Temple, Seoul, South Korea
A beautiful statue in a beautiful environment. Considering what Seoul and South Korea have suffered over the years, it’s amazing that this temple has remained relatively untouched since its creation in 794. The temple also has a unique program where you can (temporarily) live the life of a monk, if you’re interested.
Gal Viharaya, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka
It’s considered to be one of the most beautiful and powerful depictions of Buddha in the world. And you can take that quite literally: it’s carved out of solid granite.
Ushiku Daibutsu Buddha, Japan
Yet another impressive statue – but this time without a temple attached to it. The statue has an observation floor at 85 meters high that allows you to get a good view of the surroundings. Don’t worry – there’s an elevator that will take you there. Up until 2002, the 120 meter statue was the tallest one in the world.
Maitreya Buddha, Ladakh, India
Probably the most brightly coloured Buddha statue you’ll find in the world. This Crowned Buddha statue isn’t just part of a monastery for religious people – the monastery administration actually runs a school that teaches Tibetan kids in English.