The dome of the holiest Buddhist monument, Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya, the only UNESCO world heritage site in Bihar, will get a gold veneer by the end of this month.
The process for gold plating was set in motion after 289 kilograms of the precious metal donated by Thailand king Bhumibol Atulaya and devotees in that country arrived in the holy town two days ago.
Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) member Arvind Kumar Singh said following a chemical treatment, the dome was ready for gold plating. Only the top 18 feet of the 180-feet-high structure would be covered with gold.
“It is a big moment for us. The spire of the temple will glitter with the gold,” said BTMC secretary N Dorjee.
The gold landed in the custody of a 40-member team led by former Thai deputy prime minister General Pricha. The 13 sheets of gold were brought in 13 boxes in a special flight guarded by 23 commandoes two days ago. Seventeen gold plating experts, part of the team, will deposit the yellow metal on the dome.
Atulaya, who donated 100kg of the total consignment, had last year offered to coat the spire with gold last year. Authorities had initiated the process soon after the Bihar government, archaeological survey of India (ASI) and the BMTC approved the king’s offer.
Now that the final phase of the work to be undertaken by Thailand-based company Kreign Thavorn Containers Co Ltd under ASI supervision gets underway, security has been enhanced around the temple campus.
A special prayer will be held under the holy Bodhi tree, where Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment, on November 16. At least 500 devotees from Thailand, including those who donated the gold, are likely to participate, Dorjee said.
The Bodh Gaya temple is revered the world over, more so in the south-east Asian countries, China and Japan.
The temple is believed to have been built between the AD 500 and 600.
On July 7 this year, a series of low intensity serial blasts rocked the temple, but no casualties or any serious damage to the temple were reported.