It's harder to see the world's tallest statue than you would think.
If you want to see the world’s biggest statue, prepare yourself for a long journey. After you’ve flown to China, you’ll need to hop on another plane or a train to the Henan Province, where you'll catch a bus to the Fodushan Scenic Area. Two hours later (if you took the train to Lushan, and ever longer if you went by air to Zhengzhou) you’ll finally find yourself staring up at the Spring Temple Buddha.
That’s a lot of work to get to a statue, maybe, but even skeptical travelers admit that being dwarfed by the 420-foot-tall golden Buddha was worth the trek. And because it's so difficult to reach, you'll be competing with few other tourists for a perfect photograph. Many visitors gleefully reported the site was so empty, they felt like they had the statue to themselves.
The Buddha, which is made of nearly 240 pounds of gold, 33 tons of copper alloy, and another 15,000 tons of steel, was built in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It overlooks the Shahe River, and is flanked on three sides by dramatic mountain ridges. Though the statue is technically 420 feet tall—including the lotus flower it stands on—it reaches a height of 700 feet when the two platforms beneath are taken into account.
For reference, most people aren’t quite eye-level with the Buddha's toenails. Even the Statue of Liberty, on her pedestal, would reach about waist-height.
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In case you’re still not sold on going so far off the beaten track to see a statue, there are a few other reasons to visit. Before arriving at the Buddha, you’ll walk through the Foquan Temple, which houses another superlative attraction: the bronze Bell of Good Luck. Known as the world’s largest and heaviest working bell, it weighs in at 116 tons and is nearly 27 feet in height.
And the scenery and construction surrounding the statue is steeped in symbolism. The road leading to the pathway has 365 steps, divided into 12 platforms, to evoke the days and months in the year. (A sign reads: “The implied meaning: do something good every day, cultivate oneself every month, gradually, you will be successful.”)
As things often go, the Buddha will soon lose its title to a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel—India’s first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister— which is currently under construction on the northern bank of the Narmada River, in Gujarat, India. When it’s completed (which could be as soon as early 2018) it will stand nearly 600 feet tall on its own, easily overshadowing even the Spring Temple Buddha.