Buddha statues at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Singapore

Photo by Gregory Williams (Kasei)

The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum located in the Chinatown district was recently built in 2007, but the temple’s richly designed interiors and comprehensive exhibits on Buddhist art and history tell stories of culture over hundreds of years old. The temple gets its name from what the Buddhists regard as the left canine tooth of Buddha, which has been recovered from his funeral pyre in Kushinagar, India and displayed in its grounds.

Careful design

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, a symbol of Buddhist culture that represents the universe.

Sacred relics and giant stupa

The Buddhist Culture Museum on the third floor holds an array of revered artefacts of the Buddha, such as bone and tongue relics, and the Sacred Light Hall on the fourth floor contains the temple’s centrepiece.

The Buddha Tooth Relic is housed in a giant stupa weighing a whopping 3500 kilograms and made from 320 kilograms of gold, of which 234 kilograms were donated by devotees. You’ll have to see the tooth relic from the public viewing area, as 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’re looking for a little quiet contemplation amid Chinatown’s hubbub, the roof garden, with its pagoda and Buddha prayer wheel, offers a tranquil hideaway.

Discovering Buddhism

Shakyamuni Buddha was believed to have gained insight into truth, and perfected the qualities of wisdom and compassion over 2560 years ago. Today, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple carries on the legacy of his teachings through the ‘Discovering Buddhism’ workshop. Travellers can gain more insight into Buddhism at this interactive workshop led by the temple’s resident venerables.

Call +65 6854 7022 or email [email protected] to register for the workshop.

Tour the temple

Admission to the temple and weekly-guided tours are free of charge. Conducted by the temple’s volunteer guides, each tour lasts around 2 hours and guides you through the different floors and halls of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. Areas covered include the Hundred Dragons Hall, which houses a hundred Buddha statues, and the Universal Wisdom Hall, where handcrafted Bodhisattva artworks are on display.

Register online for the tour here.