Standing Buddhas, sitting Buddhas, smiling Buddhas, stern looking Buddhas, comedic Buddhas, pensive Buddhas, bald Buddhas, crowned Buddhas, Buddhas riding animals, Buddhas with headgear you get to see them all and some more at this monastery that we know as the Ten thousand Buddhas Monastery, locally called Man Fat Sze.
The monastery, (‘temple’ is a better word to actually describe it as there are no residing monks) is up the Po Fook Hill in Hong Kong’s Northern Territories. To get to the monastery, one must climb 400 steps. According to my son 600 is a more realistic count! The walk is well worth it – once you get the top, the peace and quiet and cool air engulfs you and you feel a sense of tranquility. Since the temple is off the beaten track, there are very few visitors so you have the place all to yourself to walk around slowly at a pace that suits you.
The temple complex is spread over two levels. On the first level is the Main Hall (photography not allowed) with three huge statues of Buddhas and the embalmed body of Rev. Yuet Kai the founder of the monastery. Reverend Yuet Kai came from China to Hong Kong to preach Buddhism. The inner walls of the Main Hall are lined from floor to ceiling with miniature Buddhas all holding various poses and postures. On the opposite end of the Main Hall on the first level is a beautiful red 9-storey pagoda that apparently features on a HKD100 bill (sadly we didn’t see it on the 100 dollar notes we had). I had read that one can climb to the top of the pagoda and be rewarded with fantastic aerial views. On the day we were there the pagoda appeared closed. There are several more deities and Buddhas in various halls and pavilions from across the Main Hall. There is a small gift shop that sells books and other trinkets such as folding fans, jade jewellery, good-luck charms and such other stuff.
A climb up another 60-70 steps takes you to the second level with more halls, pavilions and columbarium. We could not visit all the halls and pavilions as construction work was going on and the area was cordoned off.
How to get there
There are no signboards to this monastery. So take note of these directions or use GoogleMaps once you get out via Exit B at Sha Tin MTR station.
Take the MTR East Rail Line going towards Lo Wu/Lok Ma Chau and deboard at Sha Tin MTR station (Exit B).
Step out of the MTR station and turn left. It leads toward a downward ramp. Walk down the ramp. As you walk along the ramp, you will see a cluster of old style houses to your left and a sign board that says ‘Pai Tau Village’. Get off the ramp and continue walking with the houses and banyan trees to your left. Turn left onto Pai Tau Street, make a right onto Sheung Woh Che street (the Sha Tin Government Office buildings will be on your left). Walk to the end of the street (past the roundabout). At the end of the Government Office Car Park building wall you will see a small path going left. Take it and the start of the trail is a few steps away.
Remember to wear comfortable shoes and carry water. Toilet and water facilities are available.
If you are really fit it will not take you more than 10 minutes to get to the top. But don’t be in a hurry, walk up slowly and admire all the golden Buddhas that line the path. It will still not take more than 15-20 minutes even at a leisurely pace. If you tire out, sit down on the benches provided along the path. We spent about 45 minutes up there among the halls, pavilions, Buddhas and other deities.