The construction of a 108m-high Buddha statue, Cambodia’s tallest, on Bokor Mountain in Kampot province – which is estimated to cost around $30 million and take four years to complete – broke ground on January 4.

The groundbreaking ceremony was held in the presence of Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction Chea Sophara, Sokha Hotel Group president Sok Kong, Minister of Environment Say Samal and Minister of Tourism Thong Khon.

Minister of Justice Koeut Rith, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth, Kampot provincial governor Mao Thornin and the architects were also in attendance, as were a number of monks and lay Buddhists.

Sokha Hotel’s Kong said at the ceremony that the completed statue will be the largest and tallest Buddha statue in Cambodia, and among the tallest in the world.

In the Maravijaya – Buddha triumphing over Mara – Buddha form, the statue will be rendered in the Bayon style, which was the supreme artistic style during the reign of Jayavarman VII in the 13th century.

“Sokha Hotel has initiated the construction of a large Buddha statue on the ridge of Bokor Mountain as a shrine for Buddhists to conduct Dharma worship, one dedicated to peace, prosperity and the eternity of the people,” Kong said.

Land management minister Sophara thanked Sokha Hotel Group for its development of Bokor Resort, and for initiating the construction of the Buddha statue, which is set to become one of the largest Buddhist tourism centres in Cambodia and the world.

“Along with developments on Bokor Mountain, Sokha Hotel Group has been attentive to religious beliefs, which have been part of the culture and traditions of the Cambodian people for a long time,” he said.

Kampot governor Thornin said the giant Buddha statue will represent another major achievement for the province, one contributing to the promotion of Buddhism – the state religion – and creating a major new tourism draw.

The statue is being constructed by Sokha Real Estate Company, which will largely use skilled local technicians, with foreign experts called in when necessary.

The statue of the Buddha sitting on a circular lotus throne is being built on the ridge of Bokor at an elevation of 962m above sea level in the so-called 500 Rice Fields area of Preah Monivong Bokor National Park.

Made of reinforced concrete and finished in a rich gold colour, the statue will face east, with the 108m from the ground to the top of the Buddha’s chignon representing his 108 blessings.

The Buddha statue has been designed with Khmer characteristics and essence after study by a group of Cambodian architects, with suggestions and feedback from the Inter-Ministerial Technical Working Group.

The working group was led by the ministries of environment; cults and religion; culture and fine arts; land management; tourism; and the Kampot Provincial Administration.