Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
288 South Bridge Road
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, an amazingly beautiful building that adorns Singapore's China Town, is often compared to an ancient casket, the numerous boxes of which keep an unprecedented number of amazing treasures inside.
This temple, with its strikingly magnificent and luxurious interior, is situated on the ground floor of a three-storey building. The first floor is occupied by a small shop selling thematic literature, souvenirs and incenses, as well as a café, in which one can drink genuine Chinese tea. Meanwhile, the second floor features two very interesting museums: one is devoted to the history of the Buddhist culture, while the other illustrates the history of the temple’s main treasure – the Buddha Tooth Relic that is located on the third floor.
This Pagoda’s key relic is kept in a golden stupa, which is made of 420kg of pure gold, decorated with precious stones and secured under thick plate glass. It is possible to see the casket only twice each day: when the monks come here in order to conduct their special ceremony and open the hem that hides the stupa, although the Holy Buddha Tooth itself can be seen only on a screen located near the casket. The image of the golden stupa’s insides is broadcasted on it.
There are plenty of legends and rumors regarding the Singapore temple’s relic and its origin. According to one version of the tale, it is one of the four teeth that were taken out of Buddha's mouth by his followers, as he lay on the the funeral pyre following his cremation. The three other teeth are kept in different countries: one in the namesake temple in Kandy (Sri-Lanka); the second in China’s capital, while the third is alleged to have been recently discovered in Mongolia. Dentists, however, state that the tooth kept in this Singaporean Temple cannot possibly belong to the Buddha, or to any other human being, reason being that they believe it to be the tooth of an animal, most likely of a cow or buffalo. Regardless, Singaporean Buddhists sincerely believe that their relic is authentic and have worshipped it for almost two thousand years now.
In addition, the Temple and Museum complex includes an exhibition hall, which regularly hosts shows devoted to the different aspects of religious art and Singaporean culture. There is also a theater for cultural performances, discussions and film shows. A blossoming orchid, the Dendrobium Buddha Tooth, can be seen on temple’s roof. This specimen, one of the most revered flowers in Singapore, derives its name from the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.