Patna: The dome of Bodh Gaya`s 1,500-year-old Mahabodhi temple, Buddhism`s holiest shrine, has been inlaid with nearly 300 kg gold donated by devotees from Thailand -- giving the shrine a new look.
"A team of technical experts from Thailand has completed work to gold-plate the dome and final touches were given to it Wednesday," the temple`s chief monk Bikhshu Chalinda said Thursday.
Chalinda said over telephone from Bodh Gaya, about 110 km from here, that the temple`s dome had become more attractive and beautiful after it was inlaid with gold.
"Thanks to the 289 kg of gold donated by the Thai King`s treasury and Buddhist devotees from Thailand, the temple has not only become richer but it has a different look," he said.
According to him, more than 200 Thai devotees, mostly those who donated gold, are camping in the temple premises since Wednesday to offer prayers.
N. Dorjee, secretary of the Bodh Gaya temple management committee, said work on the dome started in November. A Thai company carried it out, overseen by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
The gold was flown in a special plane from Bangkok.
Dorjee said it was Thai King Bhumibol Atulya who decided last year to cover the temple dome with gold. But it took time to get the ASI`s clearance.
The first phase of the work involving chemical treatment was completed in August to prepare the foundation for gold plating.
The ancient 180 feet structure of the Mahabodhi temple is estimated to have been built between the 5th and 6th century AD.
It was lost and rediscovered in the 19th century by Alexander Cunningham, who founded the ASI in 1861.