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Image: David Schroeter

Bigger, better, heavier – that seems to be the motto of Asia’s amazing Buddha statues. Our list features actual statues as well as destroyed and planned ones but all have to be taller than 50 m (165 ft). Where does that leave the most famous and sadly destroyed ones, the Buddhas of Bamyan? At 180 ft, they are some of the shortest! Read on to discover which one tops the list. A hint: it’s a good 500 ft!

Have you ever wondered why some Buddhas are depicted standing, some seated and some even lying down? And why they all pose their hands in unique gestures? Not to forget the sheer number of gigantic statues. Well, according to tradition, Buddha images must be high enough so that their feet are above people’s eye level to avoid any accidental soiling.

The elevation is also meant as a reminder for devotees to refrain from pride and ego. While attaining enlightenment, Buddha was in a seated position, therefore this is a favourite position. The hand postures are called mudras and have different meanings, for example fearlessness, instruction, meditation, wish granting and others. Regardless of which giant Buddha you may visit, they are all great tourist attractions that easily take a whole day to explore. Following is the countdown.


Image: dordenma

17. Buddha Dordenma, Thimphu, Bhutan 51.5 m (169 ft) – under construction

The 12 m clay model of the Buddha statue.

The Buddha Dordenma project is dedicated to erecting a 169-ft Shakyamuni Buddha statue on a hill slope 100 m above the Wangchu River, overlooking Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital. According to the Dordenma website, the Buddha statue is supposed to “radiate auspicious energy over the country and to all parts of the world, fulfilling the prophecy of bestowing blessings, universal peace and happiness to the whole world.”

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Image: dordenma

An eye of the Buddha, already resting in Bhutan.

The statue will be made of bronze and then gilded and house 100,000 similar, yet much smaller Buddha statues. Planning started in 2004 and a 12-m-tall clay model was finished the same year. In 2008, the first parts of the actual statue reached Bhutan where they are waiting to be assembled. Once completed, the site is expected to draw pilgrims from all over the world.

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