Colossal Buddha statues – sculptures of the Buddhist era
After the collapse of the Indus Valley civilization there is little record of larger sculpture until the Buddhist era.
During the 2nd to 1st century BCE in far northern India, in the Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara from what is now southern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan, sculptures became more explicit, representing episodes of the Buddha’s life and teachings.
Since then many Colossal Buddha statues were carved across the silk road and later beyond south Asia.
Table of Contents
- 1 - Giant Buddha statues around the world
- 1.1 - Chandavaram Buddhist site
- 1.2 - Kolvi Caves
- 1.3 - Dhamnar Caves
- 1.4 - Binnayaga Buddhist Caves
- 1.5 - Wat Intharawihan
- 1.6 - Phuket Big Buddha
- 1.7 - Maitreya Project
- 1.8 - Great Buddha of Thailand
- 1.9 - Eluru Buddha Park
- 1.10 - Wat Phra Yai
- 1.11 - Buddhas of Bamiyan
- 1.12 - Daibutsu
- 1.13 - Mengshan Giant Buddha
- 1.14 - Buddha Dordenma statue
- 1.15 - Tōdai-ji
- 1.16 - The Big Buddha (Hong Kong)
- 1.17 - Spring Temple Buddha
- 1.18 - Sala Keoku
- 1.19 - Rongxian Giant Buddha
- 1.20 - Buddha Park
- 1.21 - Oriental Buddha Park
- 1.22 - Buddha Statue of Hyderabad
- 1.23 - Maligawila Buddha statue
- 1.24 - Gal Vihara
- 1.25 - Luangpho Yai
- 1.26 - Leshan Giant Buddha
- 1.27 - Laykyun Sekkya
- 1.28 - Kōtoku-in
- 1.29 - Jade Buddha Palace
- 1.30 - Buduruvagala
- 1.31 - Great Buddha (Bodh Gaya)
- 1.32 - Grand Buddha at Ling Shan
- 1.33 - Avukana Buddha statue
Giant Buddha statues around the world
This is a list of Giant Buddha statues from around the world. Some of them created and carved in situ.
Chandavaram Buddhist site
Chandavaram Buddhist site is an ancient Buddhist site in Chandavaram village in Prakasam district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
In 1985, a project called the “Buddha Poornima Project” was proposed.
Under this project, the world’s tallest standing monolith statue of Buddha was to be erected on the site. Made out of granite, the statue was carved by 200 sculptors in two years and on completion it weighed 440 tonnes with an overall height of 17 metres (56 ft).
However, the Buddha statue was transported to city of Hyderabad in 1988 instead, where it was erected in 1992 in the Hussain sagar lake and stands today.
Kolvi Caves or Kholve Caves, are located at Kolvi village in the state of Rajasthan, India. They are carved out in laterite rock hill. This Buddhist site has stupas, chaityas containing figures of Buddha. An architectural style shows dominance of Hinayana sect in this region. The caves has statues of Buddha in the meditation and standing position. The stupas and colossal statues of Buddha are archaeologically significant. Around Kolva village similar caves have been discovered which proves existence of prosperous Buddhist civilization in the region.
The Dhamnar Caves are caves located in the village of Dhamnar, located in Mandsaur district in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. This rock cut site consists of 51 caves, stupas, Chaityas, passages, and compact dwellings, carved in the 7th century CE. The site includes large statues of Gautama Buddha in sitting and Nirvana mudra.
Binnayaga Buddhist Caves
Binnayaga Buddhist Caves also known as Vinayaka or Vinayaga are located at village Binnayaga in the state of Rajasthan, India. The excavation has around 20 laterite caves facing south from east to west. This is monastic complex, the cells are smaller than Kolvi Caves cell. The stupa shaped sanctuary is the highlight of these caves. It has chaitya which bears windows. Another significant cave has two wings of an open courtyard. “It has at the back a closed lobby with vaulted ceiling and a central door flanked by a cell on either side. The moulded pedestal against the back wall is now empty.”
Wat Intharawihan or Wat Intharavihan is a Third Class Royal wat (temple) located in the Phra Nakhon District of Bangkok, Thailand. It is noted for its 32 metres (105 ft) high standing Buddha statue known as Luang Pho To or “Phra Si Ariyamettrai” that was erected on the inspiration of the still highly revered abbott Somdej Toh.
Phuket Big Buddha
Phuket Big Buddha, or The Great Buddha of Phuket, is a seated Maravija Buddha statue in Phuket, Thailand. The official name is Phra Phutta Ming Mongkol Eknakiri, shortened to Ming Mongkol Buddha. Sitting atop Nakkerd Hill near Chalong, construction began in 2004. Expansion of the base was ongoing as of 2015. By 2017, 80 percent of the project had been completed. It is the third-tallest statue in Thailand behind only the Great Buddha of Thailand and Luangpho Yai.
The Maitreya Project is an international organisation, operating since 1990, which intends to construct statues of Maitreya Buddha in India and perhaps elsewhere. Initial plans were for a 152-metre (500 ft) colossal statue, to be built in either Kushinagar or Bodhgaya. These plans have since changed, and the Maitreya Project now intends to construct relatively modest statues in both towns. The project was initiated by the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, an organisation within the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Great Buddha of Thailand
The Great Buddha of Thailand, also known as The Big Buddha, The Big Buddha of Thailand, Phra Buddha Maha Nawamin, and Mahaminh Sakayamunee Visejchaicharn, was in November 2018 the tallest statue in Thailand, the second tallest statue in Southeast Asia, and the ninth-tallest in the world.
Eluru Buddha Park
Gaja Vallivari Cheruvu is one of the ancient ponds in the history of Helapuri town. During the Chalukyan period elephants used to drink water in this pond. Eluru is the former capital of the Vengi Dynasty. Between 11A.D.
Wat Phra Yai
Wat Phra Yai, known in English as the Big Buddha Temple, is a Buddhist temple on Ko Phan, a small island offshore from the northeastern area of Ko Samui, Thailand.
As its name indicates, it is home to a giant, 12-metre-high (39-foot) gold-painted Buddha statue.
Since being built in 1972, it has become one of Ko Samui’s main tourist attractions and a major landmark.
Buddhas of Bamiyan
The Buddhas of Bamiyan were two 6th-century monumental statues, Salsal and Shahmama, which were carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley of central Afghanistan, 130 kilometres (81 mi) northwest of Kabul at an elevation of 2,500 metres (8,200 ft). Carbon dating of the structural components of the Buddhas has determined that the smaller 38 m (125 ft) “Eastern Buddha” was built around 570 AD, and the larger 55 m (180 ft) “Western Buddha” was built around 618 AD, which would date both to the time when the Hephthalites ruled the region.
Daibutsu or ‘giant Buddha’ is the Japanese term, often used informally, for large statues of Buddha.
The oldest is that at Asuka-dera (609) and the best-known is that at Tōdai-ji in Nara (752).
Tōdai-ji’s daibutsu is a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara and National Treasure.
Mengshan Giant Buddha
The Mengshan Giant Buddha is a stone statue located in the city of Taiyuan, Shanxi and was built during the Northern Qi dynasty.
Initially discovered in a 1980 census, the statue was found to have its head missing.
From 2006 to 2008, people constructed a 12-meter tall head for the statue.
The site opened to the public in October 2008.
Buddha Dordenma statue
Great Buddha Dordenma is a gigantic Shakyamuni Buddha statue in the mountains of Bhutan celebrating the 60th anniversary of fourth king Jigme Singye Wangchuck.
The statue houses over one hundred thousand smaller Buddha statues, each of which, like the Great Buddha Dordenma itself, are made of bronze and gilded in gold.
The Great Buddha Dordenma is sited amidst the ruins of Kuensel Phodrang, the palace of Sherab Wangchuk, the thirteenth Druk Desi, overlooking the southern approach to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.
Construction began in 2006 and was planned to finish in October 2010, however construction did not conclude until 25 September 2015. The completed work is one of the largest Buddha rupas in the world, at 169 feet (52 m) and contains 100,000 8-inch-tall and 25,000 12-inch-tall gilded bronze Buddhas.
Tōdai-ji is a Buddhist temple complex that was once one of the powerful Seven Great Temples, located in the city of Nara, Japan.
Though it was originally founded in the year 738 CE, Todai-ji was not opened until the year 752 CE. The temple has undergone several reconstructions since then, with the most significant reconstruction taking place in 1709. Its Great Buddha Hall houses the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese as Daibutsu (大仏).
The temple also serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism. The temple is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara”, together with seven other sites including temples, shrines and places in the city of Nara.
The Big Buddha (Hong Kong)
The Big Buddha is a large bronze statue of Buddha, completed in 1993, and located at Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, in Hong Kong.
The statue is sited near Po Lin Monastery and symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith.
It is a major centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong, and is also a tourist attraction.
Spring Temple Buddha
The Spring Temple Buddha is a colossal statue depicting Vairocana Buddha located in the Zhaocun township of Lushan County, Henan, China, built from 1997 to 2008.
It is located within the Fodushan Scenic Area, close to National Freeway no. 311.
At 128 metres (420 ft), excluding a 25 metres (82 ft) lotus throne, it is the second-tallest statue in the world after the Statue of Unity in Gujarat, India, which surpassed it in 2018 with a height of 182 metres (597 ft).
Sala Keoku is a park featuring giant fantastic concrete sculptures inspired by Buddhism and Hinduism. It is located near Nong Khai, Thailand in immediate proximity of the Thai-Lao border and the Mekong river.
The park has been built by and reflects the vision of Luang Pu Bunleua Sulilat and his followers.
The construction started in 1978.
It shares the style of Sulilat’s earlier creation, Buddha Park on the Lao side of Mekong, but is marked by even more extravagant fantasy and greater proportions.
Rongxian Giant Buddha
The Rongxian Giant Buddha formerly romanized as Yong-hien or Hong-yien, is a 36.7-metre (120 ft) tall stone statue, built around 817, depicting Maitreya.
It is 90 kilometres east of the Leshan Giant Buddha.
The Buddha is carved out of the cliff face of a stone hill that lies to the north east of Rongxian and the Rongxi River in the eastern part of Sichuan province in China.
Standing 414 metres above sea level, the stone sculpture overlooks the town of Rongxian below its feet.
After the Leshan Giant Buddha, it is the second tallest pre-modern statue.
The Temple is located on the Dafo Road, Rongxian, Zigong Shi, Sichuan Sheng, China. Dàfó (大佛) in Chinese means Big Buddha. The nearest city is Zigong.
Buddha Park, also known as Xieng Khuan, is a sculpture park 25 km southeast from Vientiane, Laos in a meadow by the Mekong River.
Although it is not a temple (Wat), it may be referred to as Wat Xieng Khuan since it contains numerous religious images.
The name Xieng Khuan means Spirit City.
The park contains over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues.
The socialist government operates Buddha Park as a tourist attraction and public park.
Oriental Buddha Park
Oriental Buddha Park is a cultural theme park in Leshan, China featuring reproductions of Buddhist statues and Buddhist themed carvings made from stone, rock, and other materials.
Buddha Statue of Hyderabad
The Buddha Statue of Hyderabad is a monolith located in India. It is the world’s tallest monolith of Gautama Buddha, erected on Gibraltar Rock in the middle of Hussain Sagar.
Maligawila Buddha statue
The Maligawila Buddha statue is a standing figure of the Buddha in Sri Lanka, which was carved out of a large limestone rock during the 7th century by a prince named Aggabodhi.
It is the tallest free-standing ancient statue of the Buddha found in the country. It had been broken into several pieces by the time it was found in 1951.
The statue was reconstructed and raised again in 1980 under the direction of the then president Ranasinghe Premadasa.
The Gal Vihara, and originally as the Uttararama, is a rock temple of the Buddha situated in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa in North Central Province, Sri Lanka.
It was fashioned in the 12th century by Parakramabahu I.
The central feature of the temple is four rock relief statues of the Buddha, which have been carved into the face of a large granitic rock.
The images consist of a large seated figure, another smaller seated figure inside an artificial cavern, a standing figure and a reclining figure.
These are considered to be some of the best examples of ancient Sinhalese sculpting and carving arts, and have made the Gal Vihara the most visited monument at Polonnaruwa.
Luangpho Yai, also known as Phra Phutta Rattana Mongkhol Maha Munee, and The Great Buddha of Roi Et, is the fourth-tallest statue in Thailand.
Leshan Giant Buddha
The Leshan Giant Buddha is a 71-metre (233 ft) tall stone statue, built between 713 and 803.
It is carved out of a cliff face of Cretaceous red bed sandstones that lies at the confluence of the Min River and Dadu River in the southern part of Sichuan province in China, near the city of Leshan.
The stone sculpture faces Mount Emei, with the rivers flowing below its feet.
It is the largest and tallest stone Buddha statue in the world and it is by far the tallest pre-modern statue in the world. It is over 4 km from the Wuyou Temple.
The Laykyun Sekkya Buddha is, as of 2018, the third-tallest statue in the world at 116 metres (381 ft).
Construction began in 1996 and it was completed on 21 February 2008.
It was commissioned by the Chief Abbot Ven. Nãradã.
It was the tallest statue in the world for a few months until the completion of the Spring Temple Buddha in September 2008.
Kōtoku-in (高徳院) is a Buddhist temple of the Jōdo-shū sect, in the city of Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan.
Its mountain name is Taiizan (大異山), and its common temple name is Shōjōsen-ji (清浄泉寺).
Jade Buddha Palace
Jade Buddha Palace is a temple complex housing one of the largest jade Buddha statues in the world.
Located in Anshan, Liaoning province, the complex covers 22,104 square metres (237,930 sq ft).
The statue was sculpted from a piece of jade 7.95 metres (26.1 ft) high, 6.88 metres (22.6 ft) wide, 4.10 metres (13.5 ft) thick, weighing 260.76 tonnes (574,900 lb).
Buduruwagala is an ancient buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. The complex consists of seven statues and belongs to the Mahayana school of thought.
The statues date back to the 10th century.
The gigantic Buddha statue still bears traces of its original stuccoed robe and a long streak of orange suggests it was once brightly painted. The central of the three figures to the Buddha’s right is thought to be the Buddhist mythological figure-the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara.
To the left of this white painted figure is a female figure in the thrice-bent posture, which is thought to be his consort-Tara.
Great Buddha (Bodh Gaya)
The Great Buddha statue is one of the popular stops on the Buddhist pilgrimage and tourist routes in Bodh Gaya, Bihar (India). The statue is 19.5 m (64 ft) high representing the Buddha seated in a meditation pose, or dhyana mudra, on a lotus in the open air. The total height of the construction is 80 ft (24 m) of which the Buddha makes up 64 ft (20 m), the lotus on which the Buddha sits 6 ft (1.8 m) and the lower pedestal 10 ft (3.0 m). The construction’s width is nearly 60 ft (18 m) at its maximum. The statue was designed by V. Ganapati Sthapati and took seven years to complete using the labor of 12,000 stonemasons. It is constructed from a combination of sandstone and red granite blocks. A hollow spiral staircase inside the statue leads from the ground up to the chest. Shelves on the interior walls display 16,300 small bronze images of the Buddha. The Great Buddha statue is located in a garden at the end of Temple Street and is surrounded by smaller sculptures of Buddha’s ten principal disciples, five on each side. The Great Buddha was possibly the largest Buddha statue in India at the time and was consecrated on 18 November 1989 by the 14th Dalai Lama. The foundation stone for the statue was laid in 1982.
Grand Buddha at Ling Shan
The Grand Buddha is located on the north shore of Lake Tai, near Wuxi, Jiangsu.
It is one of the largest Buddha statues in China and also in the world.
Avukana Buddha statue
The Avukana statue is a standing statue of the Buddha near Kekirawa in North Central Sri Lanka.
The statue, which has a height of more than 46 feet (14 m), was carved out of a large granite rock face during the 5th century.
It depicts a variation of the Abhaya mudra, and the closely worn robe is elaborately carved. Constructed during the reign of Dhatusena, it may have been made as a result of a competition between a master and a pupil.
The Avukana statue is one of the best examples of a standing statue built in Sri Lanka. It is now a popular tourist attraction.