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Buddha in communist China

Sino-Indian diplomacy rode a historic horse on Saturday, with President Pratibha Patil inaugurating an Indian-style Buddhist temple in the White Horse Temple complex in Luoyang.

india Updated: May 30, 2010 01:12 IST
Rahul Karmakar

Sino-Indian diplomacy rode a historic horse on Saturday, with President Pratibha Patil inaugurating an Indian-style Buddhist temple in the White Horse Temple complex here.

The Bai Ma Si or White Horse Temple in Luoyang, 668 km southwest of Beijing, is considered the cradle of Chinese Buddhism. And it is the very place two Indian monks — Kashyapamatanga and Dharmaratna — made their base. The monks had arrived, with a white horse carrying sacred texts, in the first century.

Some 2,000 years later, Patil landed in a chartered white China Eastern aircraft to add another Indian touch.

“The Indian-style temple is a gift from the people of India to a sister civilization, one with which we share so many valuable associations and memories of interaction,” Patil said. “It is particularly appropriate that this inauguration takes place during the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the Republic of India and the People’s Republic of China.”

In a bid to put the 1962 debacle behind it, India rediscovered the White Horse Temple as a potential diplomatic galloper, with then PM Narasimha Rao visiting it in 1993. In April 2005, Delhi signed an MoU with Beijing allowing India to build an Indian-style Buddhist temple on 6,000 sq m of land in the complex.

“All material used to build the temple was brought from India,” said Akshaya Jain of Delhi-based architect firm AJRC, which designed the temple.