Image shows Buddha statue in Bali diving resort, not '5,000-year-old statue of Hindu god Vishnu'

·2 min read

A photo has been shared hundreds of times in Facebook posts that claim it shows a "5,000-year-old underwater statue" of the Hindu god Vishnu. This is false: the image shows a sleeping Buddha statue in an underwater park in Indonesia's island of Bali. The diving resort's owner told AFP the statue was bought from a shop and placed underwater in 2013.

The photo was posted here on August 5, 2022, where it has been shared more than 140 times.

The Bengali-language text overlaid on the image translates as: "This 5,000-year-old statue of Lord Vishnu was recovered from the seabed."

The post's caption reads: "Do not neglect it."

Screenshot of the misleading post, taken on September 12, 2022

The same photo, which has circulated for years, have been shared more than 760 times after it appeared alongside a similar claim on Facebook here, here and here.

However, the photo does not show a "5,000-year-old statue of Vishnu" -- one of the principal Hindu deities.

Indonesian underwater park

Combined reverse image and keyword searches found the photo published on the Facebook page of Australian photographer David Lazar on June 22, 2015.

The photo's caption reads: "Underwater discovery while scuba diving off the east coast of Bali."

Further keyword searches found a similar photo on this travel blog that states it shows a sleeping Buddha statue in an underwater park called Suci Place, located at the Matahari Tumbalen Resort in Tumbalen, a village on the northeastern coast of Indonesia's Bali island.

Komang Suci, the owner of the resort, told AFP that the sleeping Buddha statue was one of many religious statues -- most of them Hindu deities -- in Suci Place, an underwater park created for divers in front of her resort.

Bali is a Hindu enclave in Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population.

Suci told AFP: "I thought about creating the place because I wanted to make the underwater environment enjoyable for the beginner divers who were training there."

Suci said the statues had been purchased from stores around Bali.

"The sleeping Buddha statue was brought underwater in 2013," she said. "Of course the statue in our project is NOT 5.000 years old. In this case surely the statue would be in a museum."

Suci shared a photo of herself with the statue on Facebook here in 2014.

Photos of the underwater park being built were posted to the resort's Facebook page since 2012, for example here, here and here.

AFP has previously debunked a similar claim about another underwater park in Bali here.