The Phuket Big Buddha
Work on the Big Buddha statue in Phuket has been going on for many years. The main Buddha image is 45 meters high and sits over 400m above sea level on a hilltop in the south of Phuket island. We head up there at least a few times per year, sometimes get some food at a little restaurant near the top of the hill, sometimes just to enjoy the views and to check on the progress of the construction. I realised recently that I had not blogged the Buddha for nearly 2 years. Last time the main statue was still covered in scaffolding. Now things look very different.
As you can see, the main image is covered in marble, though the whole of the base including giant lotus leaves still needs to be marbled. It's already an impressive sight... it was already impressive a couple of years ago! Work continues slowly, donations are still being collected. It's much busier than it used to be. There's a sizeable car park now, more food and drink sellers have sprung up.. I really hope it does not get too commercial.
As you arrive you'll find a huge bell hanging below the statue. You then walk through a temple area where souvenirs are for sale and there are many photo displays showing the building work over the years.
There are many donation boxes along the way - up to you! Over the years we have made many donations. You can still pay to have your name on a marble slab which will be used in the building. Somewhere in there, our names are to be found on marble and on bricks too. Having your name and the names of your loved ones as part of a Buddha statue is considered very good luck.
As you start to climb the steps, the way is lined with hundreds of bells. You can buy a bell and hang it here to ring in the wind on the hilltop. The sound of all these bells is somewhat magical.
Reaching the top of the steps you are right underneath the statue. It is very big. I can imagine that when the base is all marble the sight will be totally breathtaking.
Behind the Big Buddha is a smaller gold statue - I mean, not too small, about 12m high. This was completed several years ago. Impressive enough but dwarfed by the white marble Buddha!
We feel a close connection to the Big Buddha, having been up the mountain so many times, having seen the statue grow up from nothing.. the very first time we came up here there was little more than a pile of dirt! It's getting busier for sure, and I can see that, once finished, the Buddha will be on the itinerary of many tours. It's not just "our" Buddha any more... There's no entry fee at the moment, donations are voluntary. I hope it stays that way. But although you don't have to pay - please do leave a donation! The views will always be great - the view below is looking north along the hills.
The Big Buddha is well worth a visit. You can drive up by car or motorbike or tuk tuks will drive up here. The road is almost all paved now. It's about 6km to the top from the main road that runs between Phuket Town past Chalong Temple. The turn off is about 1km before you reach the Chalong traffic circle if you are coming from town. An easy drive from Kata or Karon beaches.
Finishing date? There is no date given for completion. There seems to be no rush. We visited last weekend and there were not many workers. But anyway, even incomplete the Buddha is one of our favourite spots... And finally a photo that I think shows a little of the scale of the Big Buddha.
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