Nepal – the country of Mt. Everest and Buddha

Nepal – the country of Mt. Everest and Buddha

Archive for June 20th, 2011

Nepal to build £1.9 billion ‘Buddhist Mecca’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 20, 2011

China is providing funds to Nepal to build a $3 billion (£1.9bn) ‘Buddhist Mecca’ to attract millions of pilgrims and spiritual tourists to the birthplace of the religion’s founder Gautama, Lord Buddha.

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi, Peter Foster in Beijing

Lumbini is a Unesco world heritage site that attracts half a million pilgrims every year from China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka and Thailand to its sacred ponds, gardens and temples.

Planners hope to build an airport, hotels, convention centres, new highways, temples and a Buddhist university at the site on Nepal’sWestern border with India, where Lord Buddha was born about 2,600 years ago.

The scheme is supported by a Chinese government-backed foundation and has brought together an unlikely alliance of Nepali government ministers, Prachanda, the former prime minister and leader of the Maoist insurgency, and Paras, the former crown prince, whose family Prachanda ousted from power.

It also has the support of Steven Clark Rockefeller, the heir to the Rockefeller dynasty. According to Nepali officials devout Buddhists spend more time at the other three main pilgrimage sites in India because Lumbini does not have the infrastructure necessary for longer stays.

Sarnath, in India’s Uttar Pradesh, where Buddha first taught “dharma” or natural law, Bodh Gaya in Bihar, where he found enlightenment under the Bodhi tree and Kushinagar where he found “nirvana” in death, are all drawing increasing numbers of high-spending tourists, and Nepal’s government wants to increase its share of the spoils. Read the rest of this entry »

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Another Chinese foundation plans to raise $ 3b to make Lumbini ‘magnet for Buddhists’

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 20, 2011

Months after plans of a Chinese private sector company to invest Rs 8 billion to develop Lumbini as an International

Buddha Center hogged media headlines there comes news that a Chinese-backed foundation is planning to raise $ 3 billion to help Nepal develop Buddha’s birthplace.

According to Reuters, the Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation plans to raise the aforesaid amount at home and abroad “to build temples, an airport, a highway, hotels, convention centres and a Buddhist university in the town of Lumbini.”

Interestingly, UCPN (Maoist) chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal is the vice-chairman of the foundation which aims to transform Lord Buddha’s birthplace in southern Nepal “into a magnet for Buddhists in the same way as Mecca is to Muslims and the Vatican for Catholics”, the report adds.

The foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with Nepal government last month to jointly develop and operate Lumbini.

According to the report, the foundation also pledged to bring communications, water and electricity to Lumbini.

“Lumbini will transcend religion, ideology and race. We hope to rejuvenate the spirit of Lord Buddha,” Xiao Wunan, a devout Buddhist who is executive vice president of the foundation, told the news agency.

The development of Lumbini will also help boost government revenues, create jobs and improve infrastructure in the impoverished corner of Nepal, the report cited the memorandum as stating. Read the rest of this entry »

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