Indian hall in China's 1st Buddhist temple to be ready in April

PTI, Jan 12, 2008

Beijing, China -- 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, modeled on the lines of the great Sanchi Stupa in India, is being funded by the Indian government 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 sq.m 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 would 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 tons 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.