| Preparations on for covering the spire of Mahabodhi temple. Picture by Suman |
Gaya, Aug. 26: The spire of the heritage Mahabodhi Mahavihara will soon be covered in gold.
Devotees from Thailand will donate 100kg of the yellow metal to Buddhismís holiest shrine, which was rocked by a series of explosions last month.
At todayís prices, the cost of the gold needed would be approximately Rs 33 crore.
Work on the around 180-ft tall spire is set to begin from the first week of September. The Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have approved a proposal in this regard.
Thailand-based Krieng Thavorn Containers Company Limited will carry out the work to drape the spire in gold. Experts from Thailand will arrive in Bodhgaya in a couple of days. Archaeologists will supervise the work, which would take around two months.
BTMC secretary Nangzey Dorjee and superintending archaeologist of ASIís Patna circle, Madan Singh Chauhan, confirmed that they have given their nod for the gold-plating.
Thin gold sheets to be wrapped around the spire have reportedly been prepared. The gold plating would not alter the spireís original shape.
Superintending archaeologist Chauhan told The Telegraph from Delhi they would supervise the work so that the gold plating does not pile extra weight on the existing structure and it is not tampered with.
After the gold-plating, a three-day special function would be organised from November 14 to celebrate the occasion. Representatives and devotees from Thailand are likely to attend it.
It is a tradition in Thailand for devotees to donate gold, collected through contribution from devotees. An example is the stupa at the Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep temple in Thailandís Chiang Mai, which is fully covered in gold.
The 1,500-year-old Mahabodhi Mahavihara, a World Heritage Site, is built at the site where Gautama Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment. About one lakh tourists, most of them Buddhists from Japan, China, Sri Lanka, Thailand and other south Asian countries, visit Bodhgaya annually.
The Nitish Kumar government had earlier turned down a proposal from the Thailand royal family to install a dome of gold atop the Thai temple in Bodhgaya. The Union tourism ministry has been urging the state government to reconsider its position. But the Nitish government has cited security concerns to reject the proposal. The Thai temple, close to the Mahabodhi complex, was built in 1957. It has a sloping, curved roof with golden tiles. Inside, the temple has a massive bronze statue of Buddha.