Jakarta Approves Reconstruction of Historic Buddhist Temple
The foundation that manages the historic Dharma Bhakti Temple in the Indonesian municipality of West Jakarta on Tuesday secured permission from Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama to rebuild the 365-year-old place of worship, which was gutted by fire early last year.
Located in Glodok, Jakarta’s Chinatown, the iconic temple, originally named Guo Xun Guan Temple in honor of the bodhisattva Guanyin, has an eventful history dating back to 1650. The original structure was destroyed during the 1740 Batavia massacre of some 10,000 ethnic Chinese by the Dutch colonial government, and subsequently restored in 1755. The temple was renovated once again in 1890 but retained its basic design and sculptures. It was the largest and oldest Buddhist temple in Jakarta before the main building was engulfed in flames in the early hours of 2 March 2015, reportedly caused when a tarpaulin hanging near candles caught fire. No casualties were reported, although media reports indicated that about 40 sculptures, including antiques, were destroyed.
The city governor said the temple had been officially recognized as part of the city‘s cultural heritage since 1972 and confirmed his support for its reconstruction, adding that the Jakarta administration would expedite a construction license. “They asked us to provide a license fast and I told them, ‘Build it quickly’,” Basuki said. (The Jakarta Post)
He added that while the city had approved the reconstruction, it would not provide any financial support to the foundation: “We will not provide financial support. They did not ask for it and they do not need it. I’m sure they have collected many donations.”
Commonly known by his Hakka Chinese nickname Ahok, Basuki also pledged that the temple site would not be affected by Jakarta’s ongoing road-expansion project, which includes the road on which the temple is located. Earlier media reports had suggested that part of the temple complex had been scheduled for demolition by the city administration.
“The building is a piece of cultural heritage so it is protected according to the Gubernatorial Decree [No. 11/1972],” said Basuki. “We will provide them with all the documents they need to start rebuilding the temple.” (The Jakarta Post)
Speaking at City Hall after meeting Basuki, Tan Adipranata, chairman of the Dharma Bhakti Temple Foundation, said that a groundbreaking ceremony for the temple’s reconstruction would be held on 18 January. “We will renovate the temple soon. We have also asked the Jakarta administration to ease all administrative processes for us,” he said.
Tan expressed relief that the city administration had agreed to spare the temple from being affected by the road-expansion project. “Ahok said that this temple is cultural heritage, therefore the city administration exempts the temple from the road-widening project,” he said. (The Jakarta Post)
Tan did not give a cost for the reconstruction, which is being funded by the foundation, but noted that the fund was made up of contributions from the temple’s congregation, which had continued to frequent the temple following the fire, using an undamaged building located on the site. “The temple is not only a place of worship but also of cultural heritage. We asked the city administration to keep it safe,” he said. (The Jakarta Post)
Jakarta's historic Buddhist temple gets a go from Ahok for reconstruction (The Jakarta Post)
Dharma Bhakti Temple to be rebuilt soon (The Jakarta Post)
Temple’s reconstruction awaits city’s road expansion plan (The Jakarta Post)
Jakarta’s historic Dharma Bhakti Temple gutted in overnight blaze (The Jakarta Post)