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'Indian Hall' to come up in China's first Buddhist temple

January 12, 2008 11:13 IST

An 'Indian Hall' inside the 1,900-year-old White Horse Temple in Luoyang, China's first Buddhist temple, is expected to be completed in April.

The structure, modelled on the lines of the great Sanchi Stupa in India, is being funded by India as part of a religious and cultural exchange agreement signed between the two countries in 2005.

"Our temple stands as testimony to the time-honoured friendship between China and India," says Abbot Shi Yinle, head of the temple.

He said he felt proud that his temple was chosen to house the Indian hall, almost 20 centuries after Buddhism was introduced to China from India.

The 3,450-sqm hall has facilities for Buddhist lectures, prayers, exhibitions and conferences and the stones used to build it had been shipped from India.

A senior Indian engineer has been supervising the interior decoration and two Indian master craftsmen will soon join him to supervise the final exquisite wall carvings, Hu Xuan-yan, an official with Luoyang's religious affairs bureau, said.

A 3.6-m-high Buddha statue from India weighing 22 tonnes was installed in the hall in September last year. It is the largest Buddha statue the Indian government has given to China, local officials said.

The White Horse Temple is named after an ancient tale about a white horse which carried Buddhist scripture between India and Luoyang, then China's capital city.

The temple had its heyday during the rule Wu Zetian (AD 624-705), the only woman emperor in Chinese history.

The Chinese government financed building a Xuanzang Memorial Hall in Nalanda in Bihar in 2006.

Xuanzang was a Buddhist monk, a translator and an envoy of peace and Buddhism between China and India about 1,300 years ago

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