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Luxury Buddhist tourism criticized for profane

By Yin Yeping  (Global Times)

13:10, January 17, 2013

(Xinhua File Photo/ Yang Shiyao)

Rich Buddhists who rent pricey helicopters to fly from Beijing to pray at temples on Wutai Mountain might not find the karma they are seeking, after this conspicuous display of wealth has been criticized for being too extravagant for a place considered holy to the faith.

A private helicopter company announced Wednesday that it was offering flights from the capital for a one-day tour to the mountain, in Shanxi Province, a trip that takes around 90 minutes each way.

Wutai Mountain, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to 95 temples and monasteries, and is one of the four sacred mountains in Chinese Buddhism.

He Chi, the deputy manager of the Beijing Capital Helicopter Company, told the Global Times they had just announced the new route Wednesday, and see a great potential market for the service.

"Most of the potential passengers would be the bosses of private companies," said He.

Worshippers would be able to get there and pay homage to Buddha and return to Beijing before sunset, he said.

The company has nine helicopters which can seat up to five passengers. A journey costs from 30,000 to 40,000 yuan ($4,824-6,432) per passenger per hour, depending on the journey and the type of helicopter.

"There are nine take-off and landing sites in Beijing and passengers can choose the one nearest their home to be picked up at," He said. Helipad sites include those at the Olympic Park or Honglingjin Park in Chaoyang district, and passengers must book at least one day in advance.

But this is not the only company to provide private helicopter flights for the capital's super rich.

Cao Wei, the manager of Beijing Reignwood Star General Aviation, a Beijing-based private airline, said that they launched their service to Wutai about six months ago.

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Email|Print|Comments(Editor:高奕楠、Ye Xin)

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Edward at 2013-02-1669.62.232.*
I think it is better to have pilgrimage to holy Buddhist sites such as Wutai, Puto Shan..etc.. than none at all, regardless of the types of transportation.

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