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Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is a newly built temple in Singapore's Chinatown. It is located along South Bridge Road, between Sago St and Sago Lane. The founders of the temple include the Venerable Shi Fa Zhao, abbot of the Singapore Golden Pagoda Buddhist Temple and the Venerable U Settka Parla Maha Saddhamamajotikadaja, the abbot of Bandulla Monastery in Mrauk-U, Myanmar.  

The temple was built to house relics of the Buddha which were presented to the Ven. Shi Fa Zhao, when he and an entourage was on a pilgrimage in Sri Lanka in March 1992. The handing over of the relics was presided by Sri Lankan President, Ranasinghe Premadasa.

The design of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple was conceptualised by the Ven. Shi Fa Zhao, with help from local and foreign consultants. The idea was to create a temple that follows Tang Dynasty architectural style, and incorporating the concept of the Mandala, or Buddhist universe.

Ground breaking of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple took place on 13 March, 2005. The temple, which has five levels and a basement, cost about S$60 million and was completed in early 2007. The temple is dedicated to the Maitreya Buddha, that is to say, the Buddha of the Future. The most significant feature of the temple is the two-meter solid gold stupa.

Entrance (Ground Floor)
The main entrance to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is at South Bridge Road, through the Mountain Gate, which ushers you into serenity of the temple. The gate has three doors framed by massive columns of balau timber. On your left is the Drum Tower while on your right the Bell Tower. At time of writing (November 2008), there is no admittance fees into the temple. Next to the Bell Tower is the Offering Shop, where devotees can purchase worship paraphernalia.

Ground Floor
The main shrine of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is the 100 Dragons Hall. It is located immediately beyond the courtyard on the ground level. The hall has a soaring 27-feet high ceiling, and enshrined within is the image of the Maitreya Buddha, carved of wood in Tang Dynasty style. Behind the 100 Dragons Hall is another chamber dedicated to the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, often described as the Kuan Yin or goddess of mercy. It sits on an elaborate lotus throne.

Mezzanine Floor
As we go up one level, to the mezzanine floor, we arrive at the Dharma Hall. The main image here is again the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Also on the Mezzanine floor of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is the Eminent Sangha Museum, which displays wax replicas of famous monks. An ancestral tablets chamber, with the image of the Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha is located at the rear of the mezzanine floor.

Second Floor
Going up one level, we arrive at the second floor, which houses the Manjushri Hall and the Lotus Heart Teahouse. The Manjushri Hall displays Buddhist religious art and calligraphy. Buddhist text such as the Maha-pranjna-paramita Sutra is housed here. The Lotus Heart Teahouse is a place for visitors to take a rest while visiting the temple. It serves tea as well as vegetarian food.

Third Floor
The third floor is where the Sacred Buddha Relics Chamber is located. Photography is strictly forbidden here (elsewhere in the temple, non-flash photography is permitted). The relics come in different colors and appearances. The biggest are golden, and are relics that came from the flesh. Housed here are relics of eminent monks. In addition to the Sacred Relics Chamber, also on the third floor is Samantabhadra Hall, which exhibits about 300 Buddhist artefacts from all three branches of Buddhism, and originated from many different countries including Pakistan, Korea, Myanmar, and others.

Fourth Floor
We have arrived at the top floor, and perhaps the most important floor. This is where the Sacred Light Hall is located. In this hall is the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic Chamber, which will be the repository of the sacred Buddha tooth. It is the 2-meter tall solid gold stupa that weighs 420 kg. The gold was donated by devotees. The stupa is sheltered by a gold canopy while the floor of the chamber is lined with gold tiles. Only the monks will have access to the inner chamber to conduct ceremonies. Visitors will however be able to observe the rites from the viewing gallery. The chamber curtain is raised twice a day, at 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and again at 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm, so that visitors can see inside the chamber when the monks - the Sangha - perform their blessing ceremony.
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