Bendigo: Atisha Centre

A little way out of Bendigo is Atisha Centre, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation and study centre.

It’s here they’re in the process of building The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, something I’d never heard of before.

Based on the design of the Gyantse Stupa in Tibet, it is 50 metres square at its base and nearly 50 metres high, making it the largest Stupa in the Western World. It’s being funded entirely by donations, so it’s expected to be many years before it’s finished.

We were shown around the Gompa, the temple inside the Stupa, by one of the monks.

I’m not sure there are words to describe the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace. The Buddha was carved from a rare boulder of transluscent jade, ‘Polar Pride’, discovered in Canada in the year 2000. It is 2.5 metres high, and sits on an alabaster throne of close to 1.6 metres high. It weighs around 4 tonnes.

These photos are not too good because I copied them from the Great Stupa website, but I wanted to give some idea of the size of the stone. 

Internationally-known author and gemologist, Fred Ward, in his book, Jade, says of ‘Polar Pride’: “Without doubt, this is the largest piece of gem-grade jade found in my lifetime and perhaps the millennium … it is a very, very rare occurrence.” To read about its fascinating journey from discovery in Canada to Jade Buddha in Bendigo, click here.

The Jade Buddha was formally consecrated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama on December 1st, 2009.

This little statue sat on the altar next to the Buddha. Carved into a block of the deepest-coloured jade you can get, it was so beautiful, I wondered if I nicked off with it, anyone would notice. Not really practical. It weighs nearly 100 kilos.

Another massive holy object is the four-metre-high Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) statue, which was consecrated by the Dalai Lama when he blessed The Great Stupa in June 2007.

Looking back at the temple from the altar. Much work yet to be done, but it still felt very peaceful.

A Stupa is the most sacred building in Buddhism. It symbolises the enlightened mind and the path to enlightenment, along with housing holy relics of the Buddha and other highly-realised beings.

How the Stupa will look when finished

Along one side of the Stupa  is The Peace Park, a series of gardens dedicated to interfaith harmony. Many symbols have been offered by different faiths, including Sikh, Islam, Hindu, Catholic and Buddhist.

The Peace Park

St. Francis






The Centre also offers accommodation. It would be a lovely quiet place to stay for a few days, in the bush setting. Definitely something to consider for the future.

They say Buddhists don’t believe in suffering. I turned up that morning with terrible back pain, as often happens when on the road. After spending a couple of hours at the Centre, it had magically disappeared.



12 thoughts on “Bendigo: Atisha Centre

  1. Penny Caulfield

    What a lovely place Coral, it appears that the finished Stupa will have a similar form to the great pyramids I wonder if that is intentional.


  2. No idea, Penny, but it will look pretty spectacular. The monk said it will take something like 50 years to finish it, what with it being so expensive and funded by donations, so I don’t think we’ll be seeing the finished product. Well, I won’t. You might, being so much younger than me.


  3. This looks great Coral, have you ever been to Crystal Castle near Byron Bay. That is a magnificent place to visit, a giant Buddha and Stupa there too, beautiful gardens to wander through and so serene. I’ve been once but looking forward to going again, it is amazing how peaceful the surroundings felt.


  4. Dom Cochran

    Wow, Coral, it seems that Bendigo could oneday have more Buddhists than bogans. I wasn’t even aware of this centre. It is quite an auspicious treasure even if one isn’t a Buddhist.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s