The Golden Temple: The Largest Theravada Buddhist Temple in Bangladesh
Though the original name of this temple is Buddha Dhatu Jadi, it is commonly known as Bandarban Golden Temple or simply the Golden Temple among visitors. It is regarded as one of the tourist attractions of Bangladesh. Its natural setting attracts travelers and pilgrims all over the year. Its tranquility and green atmosphere allow visitors to spend some quality time in silence in Bangladesh. Without visiting this place, your Bandarban tour will remain incomplete.
Where is it located?
This beautiful temple is located in a far-flung locality from Bandarban town. It is made atop a 60 meters (200 feet) high hill in Pulpara, which is about 4 kilometers aloof from Balaghata town and 10 kilometers away from the Bandarban city next to the Bandarban-Rangamati roadway. It is 92 kilometers way from the port city Chittagong. As the distance from Dhaka to Bandarban is 397.6 km, it is obviously a day-long journey for dwellers living in the capital city.
What is its history?
In 1995, the temple’s construction work initiated and it was inaugurated in 2000 after the completion of five years long construction work. Arakanese architecture, the South-East Asia style, was adopted while building this temple. Besides the second-largest statue of Lord Buddha, there are other smaller statues and a golden bell hanging beneath a dragon within the temple boundary. The thing for which pilgrims and travelers go there is the dhatu, the corporeal relics of Buddha, which has been preserved below four statues of Buddha. The Buddhist people believe that the worship of the dhatu gives peace and happiness in heart. This dhatu was given to given to Venerable U Pannya Jota Thera, the famous monk and former Senior Assistant Judge of the Bangladesh government, as gift by the Government of Myanmar in 1994. South Asia Sub regional Economic Cooperation (SASEC) sponsored ‘Buddhist Circuit Tour’ has made it part of the Tourism Development Project.
What are the major attractions?
The beautiful decoration, modern architectural design and golden color of the temple have made it an amazing place for local and foreign tourists. The temple is decorated with golden and maroon colors. That is why, it looks like that it is made of gold. Because of its golden color, it is called the Golden Temple. The main beauty of this holy place becomes visible on every full moon night when thousands of clay lamps are illuminated. The floor is covered with mosaic. To get into the temple, visitors will have to climb 180 steps. Once getting into the temple and seeing the exquisiteness of the Bandarban hill zone, you will feel relieved from tiredness. It may seem to you a hilly paradise away from noise and bustle of the mechanized world.
On one side of the temple, there is a museum from where visitors will get to know about the historical background of Buddhist religion. On top of the hill, there is a lake known as the “Debota Pukur” meaning “pond of the God”. Apart from these, there is an Ethnic Cultural Institute.
The Buddhist temple, which is in local language known as Kyang, is surrounded by thick jungle with plentiful flora. Standing at the Golden Temple, visitors will get a clear view of the entire Bandarban town at a glance, including the panoramic views of the surrounding wild landscape, Sangu River and Bandarban Radio Station.
What it is used for?
It is a holy place for Buddhist religious people, especially for Theravada Buddhism followers because this temple belongs to the Theravada Buddhism order. It is practiced by the Marma or Mogh indigenous group of Arakan descent living in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. They are Buddhists by religion. Every year a number of festivals are arranged where pilgrims from different corners of the world come here to participate. It is the largest Theravada Buddhist temple which houses the second-largest Buddha statue in this country.
What are the rules and regulations to enter into the temple?
This holy site is at the center of attraction for both tourists and pilgrims. Entrance is open to all. Anyone can enter into this holy place, but for this they have to buy a ticket of Tk 10. It remains open from 5pm to 7 pm for the visitors. Besides collecting ticket, you will have to follow a strict dress code. Visitors are not allowed to enter into the temple wearing shorts and shoes. Tourists can take photos, but they are not allowed to make video and touch the sculptures.
How to go there?
There is no direct way to go to the place from Dhaka. People will have to go to Bandarban town first. Direct bus services are available from Fakirapul, Sayedabad, Motijheel, Arambagh, Kamalapur and Kalabagan. After reaching there, they have to hire a rickshaw or auto rickshaw, Chander Gari (Public jeep), or private car. From Bandarban city, it may take half an hour to go there.
What are food and accommodation facilities?
It is mentioned earlier that the Golden Temple is located in a remote area and there is neither good hotel to stay nor good restaurant to eat quality food. Visitors who are interested to pay a visit in this religious site are advised to stay in any hotel in Bandarban town. Before leaving to Golden Temple in the morning, it is better to carry some dry foods.
Malaria is a very common disease in this area. Recently a TV videographer died of cerebral malaria while covering news in Bandarban. So, tourists are advised take safety measures to keep themselves away from any kind of disease.
Here, I have added a video link of this temple. If you see the video, you can realize how much beautiful the place is.