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In the vicinity of the Mahabodhi Temple
Bhutanese Temple in Bodhgaya , Bihar, India
Apart from praying and circumambulating the towering structure of the Mahabodhi temple there are other things one can do while in Bodhgaya - like visiting the numerous Buddhist temples built by different Buddhist nations in the vicinity of the spectacular Mahabodhi. As many as 37 different Buddhist temples dot the sprawling flatlands of the sacred town and are a big attraction to the thousands that visit Bodhgaya every winter.

The Bhutan Templeis popular with tourists and pilgrims. Built in their own representative architectural style, reflecting the culture and tradition of each country, the temples lend an international colour to the small and bustling town where Gautama Buddha gained enlightenment almost 2,500 years ago.

Thus, there is a Thai temple - like the colourful wats of Thailand, the Japanese Indosan Nipponji temple with a beautiful image of the Buddha brought all the way from Japan.There are also Chinese, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese, Nepalese, Korean, Taiwanese and Burmese monasteries and the Bhutanese Zangdopelri referred to as the 'Bhutan Mandir'' by the local people.Aaccording to Bodhgaya locals, the Bhutanese monastery is popular with both pilgrims and tourists because of its unique structure and well maintained surrounding.Inside the temple, the visitor is greeted by a seven-feet statue of the Buddha flanked by two smaller statues of Guru Rinpoche and Chenrigzee.

Small colourful and intricate figurines sprout out of inner walls of the temple depicting the life and times of Lord Buddha. The ceiling is covered by paintings of the mandala."I myself have never seen such detailed work of art anywhere," said Lam Rinchen Dorji, the head abbot of the Bhutan monastery adding that hundreds of tourists visit the temple everyday."The temple is so peaceful and unique, this is the best I have seen so far," said an Indian tourist from Mumbai.

There is also a 40-room guest house for Bhutanese pilgrims and officials and VIP's within the temple surroundings which remain empty during the summer months but are booked full during the winter.The construction of the Zangdopelri was started in October 1983 and took four years to complete. A serto (golden pinacle) was installed by the dratshang Lhentshog in March 2001.

This article was contributed by KUENSEL, Bhutan's National Newspaper 2004

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