Nepal – the country of Mt. Everest and Buddha

Nepal – the country of Mt. Everest and Buddha

Archive for July 21st, 2011

What happened to the dream of a Buddhist Mecca?

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 21, 2011

By Sanjaya Dhakal

In the hot, dusty plains of south-western Nepal sits Lumbini, one of the holiest places for about 350 million Buddhists

Some monasteries have been built at Lumbini - but the master plan for its development remain incomplete

around the world.

Centuries ago a baby was born in Lumbini who went on to become the Buddha and many have long cherished plans that Lumbini could be developed into a Buddhist destination, comparable to Mecca, Islam’s holiest site.

But now buildings sit half-finished and empty fields lie neglected. More than a decade after Unesco designated it a World Heritage Site, Lumbini runs the risk of slipping into obscurity and promises to transform the site remain unfulfilled.

The most recent announcement was made by a Chinese group called the Asia Pacific Exchange and Co-operation Foundation, which declared it would raise $3bn (£1.9bn) to develop Lumbini by constructing airports, highways and hotels.

Continue reading the main story

LUMBINI

  • Located in the south-western Nepali plains 300km from Kathmandu and very close to India’s border
  • Birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, probably around 566BCE, who later become the Buddha
  • Designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1997
  • Surrounded by large zone in which only monasteries can be built and no commercial premises
  • The site has a number of ancient ruins of monasteries, a sacred Bo Tree and a bathing pool – more is yet to be excavated

But both the Nepalese or Chinese government authorities claim to be in the dark about the grandiose scheme. The group insists that it is preparing a five-year plan to implement their idea of “developing Lumbini like a Mecca city”.

Yet it is unclear what stage the proposals are at and whether they will truly see the light of day.

Another Chinese organisation has proposed building a 100-metre-tall statue of the Buddha in Lumbini at a cost of more than $55m (£35m). The Nepal government has accepted this proposal but the groundwork is yet to begin. Read the rest of this entry »

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