Indian President Patil to dedicate Buddhist shrine to India-China ties

DH News Service, May 25, 2010

New Delhi, India -- With the communist government in Beijing cautiously easing restrictions on religion and promoting Buddhism; India has built a Buddhist shrine at Luoyang in Henan province of China.

President Pratibha Patil, who is leaving for a six-day visit to China on Wednesday, will dedicate the shrine as a gift from people of India to the people of the officially atheist nation.

The shrine has been built within the precincts of the historic White Horse Monastery, where the first two Indian Buddhist missionary to China lived and preached under imperial patronage.

New Delhi has spent around Rs 2 crore to build the Indian-style shrine over the past four-and-a-half years. Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said that Patil would visit the historic city of Luoyang in central China on Saturday.
“She would dedicate the shrine as a gift from the people of India to the people of China,” added Rao.

The White Horse Monastery was established in 68 AD under the patronage of Emperor Ming to accommodate Indian monks Dharmaratna and Kasyapa Matanga, who as the legend goes had travelled to China riding on white horses to introduce Buddhism. The monastery is believed to be the first Buddhist temple to be built in China.
During their tours to China former prime ministers P V Narasimha Rao and Atal Behari Vajpayee had visited the monastery, which has been an icon of the historic cultural links between the two countries.

According to an MoU that New Delhi and Beijing signed on April 11, 2005, India embarked on building a Buddhist temple on a plot of 6,000-square metre on the western side of the White Horse Monastery’s international garden.

The architecture of the shrine was inspired by Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh.