Foguangshan is by far Taiwan's most beautiful Buddhist monastery. It's also the island's largest and wealthiest meditation centre. This immense complex is located on a hill in southern Taiwan, just outside Kaohsiung City. It's also called The Light of Buddha Mountain. See it on my Kaohsiung map.
It should be at the top of your list!
This is one site you don't want to miss. In almost nine years of travel around Taiwan, I haven't found a single place that could compare to Foguangshan.
This Buddhist monastery first started as a small mountain retreat in 1967, but it's now home to Taiwan's tallest Buddha statue (36m), vast shrines, art galleries, libraries and some of the largest meditation halls you've ever seen. Many Taiwanese have told me that this is the best place on the island to study Buddhism.
Join a Tour
Last time I visited Foguangshan, I joined one of the tours that are led by the resident nuns. God knows I hate tours and seldom join them, but I'm glad I did this time. I learned a great deal about Taiwanese Buddhist philosophy, the meaning of the complex iconography and was even introduced to some basic meditation techniques.
Don't miss the Main Shrine
The Main Shrine was the highlight of my visit with it's three imposing, 7.8-meter tall Buddha statues and 14 000 smaller Buddha images contained in tiny niches on the four walls of the shrine. The nun told us that morning prayers are held here every morning at 5:40am.
The sprawling complex also includes gardens, pavilions, ponds, grottoes, teahouses, cafes and even a lodge where you can have your own room for NT$2000/night.
To make arrangements for the tours or to reserve a room at the Pilgrim's Lodge, call 656 1921, ext 6203-6205.
Getting to Foguangshan from Kaohsiung
From Kaohsiung Bus Station, buses leave every hour and take about 50 minutes to get to the temple. It costs about $NT80 one way.