Ancient Tibetan lamasery reopens to tourists in Shangri-la

created: 2009-04-09

A 330-year-old Tibetan lamasery in southwest China's Shangri-la will reopen to tourists Sunday after a two-year facelift, said a scenic administration official on Wednesday.

Yang Jianjun, head of the administration office of the Gedan Songzanlin Lamasery Scenic Area, said the 183-million-yuan (26.7 million U.S. dollars) project, funded by the government, had improved tourist facilities and the surrounding natural environment.

Water and drainage facilities had been installed and roads to the lamasery, only 5 km from the county seat of Shangri-la, Yunnan Province, had been revamped and buildings refurbished.

"This was the largest maintenance project I have seen at the lamasery, and it was very necessary as more tourists come every year," said 78-year-old monk Gaesang Yinba.

However, he had no idea how many tourists had visited the lamasery, since it had no ticket tally system before the modifications.

The monks' dormitories and fire-proofing in the lamasery had also been renovated, he said.

Home to more than 900 monks, the lamasery was built in 1679 and is the largest the Tibetan Buddhist lamasery in Yunnan.

The Fifth Dalai Lama chose the site of the monastery, which has a facade that is a small version of the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Emperor Yong Zheng, in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), granted the lamasery the name Guihua Temple in Mandarin.


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