Thailand's Crown Princess Sirindhorn was denied entry to a famous Hindu temple in eastern India because she is a foreigner and is a Buddhist, an official said Monday.
Foreigners and non-Hindus are not allowed inside many of the temples in the eastern state of Orissa, including the 12th-century Jagannath Temple, dedicated to an incarnation popular Hindu god Vishnu.
Sirindhorn, on a three-day tour of the region as an ambassador for the U.N. World Food Program, was not allowed into the temple when she visited Sunday, said a state official who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
She instead viewed the building from a nearby rooftop in Puri, along a coastal strip of Orissa that has long shared trade and cultural ties with Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.
Although Indian Buddhists are allowed inside the temple because many Hindus consider Buddha to be a reincarnation of Vishnu, the rule doesn't apply to Buddhists of foreign origin.
Several temples in Orissa, an impoverished state with conservative values, follow similarly rigid rules and have raked controversies in the past.
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a born Hindu, was denied entry into the Jagannath Temple even when she was in power because she married a Parsi, who follow the ancient Zorastrian faith, AP reports.