Fo Guang Shan (aka Buddah Light Mountain, Buddah's Light Mountain, or Buddha Memorial Center) is a Buddhist sect based in Dashu District of Kaohsiung. The headquarters in Dashu feature the largest Buddhist monastery in the country along with a 8 pagodas, a large pyramid, huge sitting buddha statue, and Buddha museum. The massive complex can fill a tourists itinerary for more than a day, and is TripAdvisor's top ten tourist landmarks in Taiwan.
The Fo Guang Shan religion was established by Hsing Yun in 1967, begning with the development of the monastery in Dashu. The religion is focused on Humanistic Buddhism, with an emphasis on technology.
Fo Guang Shan has since grown to be one of the largest charitable organizations in Taiwan. Currently it has established medical programs, several colleges, one university, and has presence in 173 countries.
The Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum started construction in 2008 and was completed in 2011.
One of the most precious artifacts in the museum is the tooth of Sakyamuni Buddha. The grounds feature eight pagodas, hundreds of statues, 4 different museums, an auditorium, Jade and Golden Buddha Statues, and 48 underground palaces (time capsules).
How to get there:
From Kaohsiung, take provincial highway 29 north to Dashu, and it will be right in front of the National Highway 3 bridge. You can also travel there via public buses.
9 AM to 8 PM
Please see below:
I have taken three separate trips to Fo Guang Shan and I still have not seen everything inside. The place is massive. There are two main parts to Foguangshan: the pyramid/pagaoda complex and the monastery/university.
Map of the "Buddha Memorial Center" as it was formerly called.
I wish I knew what this statue meant, but it looks like he is cleaning earwax for his friend.
Inside the main museum, there is a Starbucks, Family Mart, Ice Cream, Souvenir shops, etc.
Once you get out into the main courtyard it is pretty awe inspiring. They really went all out on this monument.
The pyramid and surrounding courtyard is huge. Everything is huge in this place.
Looking back at the entrance.
One of the Pagodas, which itself is full of exhibits about Buddhism.
The main entrance to the museum, with gold lotus leaf lights.
The main hall in the museum.
Glass and laser exhibition of the Buddha.
The resting Jade Buddha. In this workshop, they let us do meditation and write down our thoughts. Also they gave us a free bag of scented wood scraps from the construction.
The main museum part of the complex features many artifacts that are thousands of years old, but the most impressive part for me was the story of the life of the Buddha. There are lots of movies and audio visual displays throughout.
There is also a display of the history of the Fo Guang Shan religion.
Because photography is not encouraged in the exhibits, I do not have any other photos to show.
Golden Buddha sitting on one of the pyramid towers.
View on top of the pyramid.
View of the giant sitting Buddha from the front. The building he is sitting on is off limits to the public.
One of the towers on the pyramid.
View from the pyramid looking off to Pingtung.
Once you walk out the main entrance, you can walk about half a mile to the right to see the monastery, Buddhist temple, art gallery, and university. Just so you know, they sit on a hill and is kind of a steep hike up.
The wheel-chair friendly way up.
View of the Kaoping River and Pingtung from the top of the monastery.
Hundreds of golden Buddha statues in front of the the giant golden standing Buddha (officially called Great Buddha Land).
Display of the baptism of the Buddha (as it was explained in English, probably very different meaning than that of a Christian baptism).
The main courtyard with the giant golden Buddha in the background.
I spy with my little eye and black monk.
Ad for the Buddha museum next door.
The monastery also has an extensive display of various Buddhist artifacts.
There is also a photo exhibition and art gallery, however taking photos is not permitted.
The main courtyard.
The giant standing Buddha from the back.
A bunch of other random statues.
The weirdest place in the whole complex is the Pure Land Cave which I do not presume to understand whatsoever. I think at its core it is a tourist attraction, like a religious themed Disney Land, or "Buddhist Disney Land" because it looks similar to the "It's a Small World" ride at Disney Land.
I cannot tell you the exactly the religious significance of this place, but Pure Land Buddhism is based on the notion that we live in a world that is corrupt, so we must strive to be re-born in a non-corrupt world called "Pure Land."
Christmas and Buddhism meet?
Random (to me) displays in a dark room.
Fake house with a manikin. Okay, the place is weird but its fun to take pictures in; I say that with the upmost respect to the Fo Guang Shan religion. What is weird to me as a western foreigner is sacred and holy to the people in this monastery, I just don't completely understand. They have made a world class tourist site, and at the same time I did learn a lot about Buddhism that I did not know before. Fo Guang Shan is definitely worth a visit, especially if you are interested in learning more about Buddhism.
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We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.