Saturday, 18 June 2011

Plans for a new $3 billion Buddhist 'Mecca' to attract pilgrims

Lumbini is a Unesco world heritage site to which over half a million pilgrims visit every year from China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka and Thailand attracted to its sacred lakes, beautiful gardens and atmospheric Buddhist temples.

There are plans to build a new airport, hotels, convention centres, new roads, temples and a Buddhist university near to Nepal's Western border with India, where the Buddha was born more than 2500 years ago.

Behind the plan are a Chinese foundation and it has brought together an unlikely coalition of Nepali government ministers and the Royal family who had previously been in violent opposition.

It is in addition supported by Steven Clark Rockefeller, the heir to the Rockefeller dynasty. Apparently Lumbini is the least visited of all the Buddhist sites owing to its poor infrastructure.

Sarnath, located in India's Uttar Pradesh, is where the Buddha first taught , Bodh Gaya in Bihar is where the Buddha found enlightenment under the Bodhi trees and Kushinagar where he died , are all attracting large numbers of wealthy tourists, and Nepal's government wants to get in on the act as well.

"It is better to travel well than to arrive" Buddha

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