Description The statue is named Tian Tan Buddha because its base is a model of the Altar of Heaven or Earthly Mount of Tian Tan, the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It is one of the five large Buddha statues in China. The Buddha statue sits on a lotus throne on top of a three-platform altar. It is surrounded by eight smaller bronze statues representing gods or immortals. Like the Daibutsu in Kamakura, Japan, the Tian Tan Buddha is a image of Buddha Amitabha. The Buddha is 34 meters tall, weighs 250 tonnes, and was the world's tallest outdoor bronze seated Buddha prior to 2007. It reputedly can even be seen from as far away as Macau on a clear day. Visitors have to climb 268 steps in order to reach the Buddha, though the site also features a small winding road to the Buddha for vehicles to accommodate the handicapped. The Tian Tan Buddha appears serene and dignified. His right hand is raised, representing the removal of affliction. His left hand rests on his lap in a gesture of giving dhana. The Buddha faces north, which is unique among the great Buddha statues, as all others face south. In addition, there are 3 floors beneath the Buddha statue: The Hall of Universe, The Hall of Benevolent Merit, and The Hall of Remembrance. One of the most renowned features inside is a relic of Sakyamuni, consisting of some of his alleged cremated remains. There is a huge carved bell inscribed with images of Buddhas in the show room. It was designed to ring every seven minutes, 108 times a day, symbolizing the release of 108 kinds of human vexations. History The Tian Tan Buddha was constructed beginning in 1990, and was finished on December 29, 1993, the birthday of Sakyamuni, the historic Buddha. The construction costs of the giant Buddha were estimated to be up to $68 million. It was formed out of 202 separate pieces of bronze. In addition to the exterior components, there is a strong steel framework inside the statue to support the heavy load and wind pressure.