Kolkata: Few people know that there is a monastery in Kolkata in memory of Chinese scholar Hsuan Tsang which is presently celebrating its golden jubilee.
Set up by the local Chinese community about 50 years ago, it is named after Hsuan Tsang, the famous Buddhist monk, scholar, traveller and translator from China who travelled to India in the seventh century.
The day-long programme on Wednesday was organised by the Chinese Consulate General.
An international symposium will be held on Thursday in collaboration with the Chinese Consulate General, Lingyin Temple in Zhejiang Province of China and Cheena Bhavan of Visva Bharati. Buddhist scholars from all over the world will be there to attend it.
Tsang (602-664) travelled extensively in China and then came to India. He came to the court of Harshavardhan and stayed in India for more than a decade. He came to Nalanda and studied Sanskrit. He translated the Sanskrit books on Buddhist philosophy into Chinese. His account on the life of the people during Harshavardhan's time is considered to be very authentic. There is a monastery in Nalanda too in his memory.
The Hsuan Tsang monastery is situated at Paschim Chowbhaga, the area which is more commonly known as China Para in local parlance. Built in 1968, it is visited the scholars and students of Buddhist philosophy from all over the world. There is a prayer hall on the ground floor which has four giant statues of Buddha.
The star attraction of the monastery is the first floor prayer hall with bright frescos on the walls, pillars and ceiling depicting various stories of Buddha's life and other related events. There is a Hsuan Tsang memorial hall with a statue of the famed traveler. The library has a collection of rare Chinese religious books.
Chinese Consul General Ma Zhanwu on Wednesday said the 50-year-old Hsuan Tsang Monastery in the city will be converted into a "most modern'' Buddhist Chinese temple in future.
Zhanwu, who was present at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the new complex within the compound of the old monastery building, told reporters that once completed the new temple will have the "most durable and most modern features" retaining the unique characteristics of a Buddhist temple in China.
Describing the foundation stone laying ceremony as a "good starting phase in terms of cultural exchanges between the two countries", the envoy said, it will be made an important landmark in the entire East and a tourism spot for both domestic and foreign tourists.