Walking through the streets of Singapore’s Chinatown, it is hard to miss the magnificent 5-story Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, standing right between the Tanjong Pagar and South Bridge roads. The photogenic pagoda follows the shape of a mandala, typical of the Tang Dynasty era architecture in the ancient Middle Kingdom.
The temple is active and serves as the site of daily religious ceremonies and services. Inside, the splendid interior of the Hundred Dragons Hall, decorated in bright red and gold colors, gives visitors a glimpse into an even richer spiritual side of Buddha’s teachings. Those who want to learn more about the faith can do so in the Buddhist Culture museum, where many artifacts and historical documents are preserved.
The top floor of the building hosts what is believed to be the tooth of Siddhartha Gautama himself. The relic was recovered in Myanmar in the 1980s and through the years made its way to Singapore. The tooth is stored in a giant stupa that was made mostly from melted golden items donated by the faithful.
When you come to the Buddha Tooth temple, make sure to visit all of its 5 levels, as it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the lavishness of the ground floor’s hall and forget about the rest. The way to the top presents a fascinating journey through the history of Buddhism, its beliefs and teachings. And, if you get hungry after scaling the winding staircases, the Maxwell food court right across the road will offer treats from some of the best hawkers in the city.