Beautifully restored, Thian Hock Keng Temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Singapore and dedicated to Mazu, the Goddess of the Sea.
Built in 2007, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum may be a recent addition to the historic Chinatown district. Yet the temple is definitely worth a visit, with its rich features and exhibits on Buddhist art and culture.
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum gets its name from what the Buddhists regard as the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic.
This Tang-styled Chinese Buddhist temple was conceptualised and designed by the temple’s Chief Abbot Venerable Shi Fa Zhao, with the help of local and overseas consultants. It cost S$75 million to set up, and is based on the elements of the Tang Dynasty and the Buddhist Mandala, which is a representation of the Buddhist universe.
Sacred relics and giant stupa
You’ll find sacred artefacts of the Buddha, such as bone and tongue relics, at the Buddhist Culture Museum on the third floor.
But it is the Sacred Light Hall on the fourth floor that contains the temple’s centrepiece.
The Buddha Tooth Relic is housed in a giant stupa weighing 3.5 tonnes and made from 320kg of gold, of which 234kg were donated by devotees. You’ll have to see it from the public viewing area though – only monks are allowed into the relic chamber.
Other highlights include the Eminent Sangha Museum, a theatre that holds cultural performances, talks and film screenings.
If you need some quiet contemplation amid Chinatown’s hubbub, the roof garden, with its pagoda and Buddha prayer wheel, is a good spot.