It is almost 80 years since Swedish explorer Sven Hedin first laid eyes on the Golden Temple at Chengde, 160 kilometres north of Beijing.
Swedish-American inventor Vincent Bendix had sponsored the expedition led by Hedin in 1929 in the hope of finding a genuine Chinese temple that could be relocated to the USA.
Hedin was charmed by the discovery of the Chengde temple but Chinese authorities refused to sell. They did however agree to construct an exact replica that could be packaged and shipped to the USA in a ready-to-assemble kit.
In 1933, the Golden Temple was ready for display at the World’s Fair in Chicago. Six years later it was again on show at the World’s Fair, this time in New York.
After it was dismantled in the 1930s, however, the Golden Temple remained in its box until 1985.
It was then that Swedish architect Max Woeler managed to trace the temple and begin the work of renovating its constituent parts, which were in a state of som decay
Woeler then arranged for the temple to be sent to Sweden, and many years of deliberation have finally resulted in a new home.
Mats Liljefors, CEO of Sigtunahöjden Conference Complex, has been granted permission to erect the temple on the banks of Lake Mälaren in the mediaeval town of Sigtuna – “a place where the surroundings are reminiscent of the original location in Chengde”.
Sigtuna’s Golden Temple will function “as a unique meeting place and concert locale,” according to a statement.
Mats Liljefors hopes that the temple can be inaugurated in time for the Olympic Games in Beijing in August 2008.