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The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum is a living cultural monument in the heart of Chinatown featuring exhibitions relating to various facets of religious arts and culture of Singapore. It also houses what Buddhist leaders regard as the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic in a stupa composed of 320kg of gold donated by devotees.
The building was conceptualised and designed by local venerable Shi Fa Zhao, aided by a team of local and overseas consultants. Its grand design is based on the elements and history of Tang Dynasty and the Buddhist Mandala, the latter which is a representation of the Buddhist universe. So expect to find lots of references to both aspects, such as bone and tongue relic elements. The temple prides itself on the research made to ensure accuracy and authenticity on the design and monuments found here. Other highlights found in this building include the Buddhist Culture Museum, Eminent Sangha Museum, Tripitaka Chamber, and a Theatre for cultural performances, talks and films.
Singapore began as a boat quay at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula. Its early days bear few written accounts which are made more difficult to interpret due to the many names it has had. Its original name in Malay meant "island at the end" of the peninsula.In the middle ages there was a settlement here with a trading post and fishing village; today Singapore technically contains sixty-three small islands. Here's a good view of the city from Merlion Park and up close at Raffles Place.From the fifteenth century onwards Singapore's warring neighbors took turns taking over control of the city. Over the past five centuries this port city has been the property of Siam, the Majapahit Empire of Java, Thailand, Portugal, Britain, Japan and Malaysia. Singapore finally achieved its independence in 1959 and has existed as the Republic of Singapore, a UN member nation.Singapore is really interesting because it's one of only five sovereign city-states which survived the colonial expansion period of world history. (The others are Vatican City, Monaco, San Marino and Andorra.) Its history as a busy port city has brought traders from all over the world, and their influence is commemorated in some interesting works of art. For example, see the British tea merchants along the Singapore river, and the Asian Civilizations Museum.In the nineteenth century Singapore was a major port for ships traveling between Europe and East Asia. During WWII the Battle of Singapore ended with the largest British surrender in history -- nearly 130,000 troops.Next time you have the chance to pass through Singapore, make sure to visit the zoo and see the white tigers, and be glad there's a fence in between. Also note how clean the city is, even under a bridge.Text by Steve Smith.