A stroll through downtown's famed Chinatown would be incomplete without a visit to the colorful, massive Mahayana Buddhist Temple, seated at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge. Within this faux pagoda (guarded by gilded lions) lies a large urn full of burning incense; for a dollar donation, you can get your very own rolled, rubber-banded fortune. Deeper in the building is what is believed to be the largest Buddha in the city: a behemoth, 16-foot gold statue resting on a lotus flower and sporting an ethereal blue halo around its head. Prints depicting pivotal events of the Indian mystic's life cover the surrounding walls while tables in front of the sculpture provide a place for families to make offerings in memory of dead relatives. The space didn't always serve such a holy purpose; prior to 1996, in its past life, the temple looped adult movies as The Rosemary Theater. Back then, John Holmes and Linda Lovelace were the ruling deities.
Award-winning author and chef Maria Benardis focuses her teachings on living a healthy life through ancient Greek wisdom and cuisine. More »