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Looking along the plaza toward the main building. (SC)  <img src='http://www.guidegecko.com/images/spyglass1.png' align='texttop' /> Click for full image
Travel Guide > Asia > Taiwan > Sights & Attractions

Buddha Memorial Center

  
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Occupying a valley immediately northwest of Foguangshan, Buddha Memorial Center (佛陀紀念館) houses one of the most precious relics in Buddhism: A tooth believed to one of the Buddha's, retrieved from the ashes after he was cremated in 543BCE.

The 34-hectare center opened on December 25, 2011 and has been drawing vast crowds of pilgrims and tourists ever since.

The tooth reached Taiwan via Tibet, where it was taken in the 13th century when Muslim armies destroyed most of India's Buddhist institutions. Worshiped at Namgyal Monastery until 1959, it was spirited back to India by a Tibetan lama soon after Communist China invaded. In 1998, it was gifted to Foguangshan's founder, the Venerable Master Hsing Yun.

The basic design work was done by Hsing Yun himself, drawing on the Buddha’s life and doctrines, and construction took nine years. Much of the spacious plaza in the heart of the center is covered by grass, and dozens of bodhi trees have been planted. The Buddha achieved enlightenment under a bodhi tree. Eight pagodas, four on each side of the plaza, lead up to the main building. These represent the Noble Eightfold Path, one of the Buddha’s most important teachings. The center’s wall are decorated with reliefs showing scenes from the Buddha’s life.

The tooth relic is kept in the Jade Buddha Shrine. The main building also has an auditorium that seats 2,200 people, a library, a conference room, a tea room, and four museums, the most interesting of which is about Foguangshan's history. The stupa on each corner symbolizes the four Bodhisattvas in Chinese Buddhism, and also Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths.

Eight statues in front of the main building depict the founders of the Eight Schools of Chinese Buddhism. Another 18 lining the approach are Arhats, individuals thought to have attained an exceptional level of enlightenment. To show modern Buddhism's support for gender equality, three members of the previously all-male line-up have been replaced with females, including Buddha's stepmother.

The hillock behind the main building has been renamed Vulture Peak, in honor of the hilltop in India where Buddha delivered many of his sermons. The bronze seated Buddha there is 108m high, including base.

Directions

Buses between Kaohsiung HSR Station to Foguangshan continue on to the Buddha Memorial Center. If you're touring the monastery, is usually possible to hitch a ride on one of the electric buggies that shuttle between the two sites; on foot it's about 1km.

Type: Museum
Costs: free
Location: Taiwan
Street address: Dashu District, Kaohsiung City
Nearest public transport: Buddha Memorial Center bus stop
Opening hours: Daily 8.30am-5.30pm
Telephone: +88676561921







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