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People's Daily Online>>Life & Culture

Sacred mountain to get massive facelift

By Sun Ruisheng and Li Yao (China Daily)

09:39, March 05, 2012

TAIYUAN - A massive facelift will be given to one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China, as North China's Shanxi province plans to inject 1.8 billion yuan ($286 million) to boost tourism in the area.

Wutai Mountain, located 240 km from the provincial capital of Taiyuan and enrolled as a cultural landscape on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2009, will get the investment to improve its infrastructure, relic protection and tourist facilities in the next few years, Wang Jianwu, director of Shanxi culture heritage bureau, said on Feb 27.

The number of domestic and overseas tourists to the mountain has risen steadily in recent years. During the week-long Spring Festival holiday this year, 86,900 visitors came, said Liu Binglong, director of the mountain's administration bureau.

Wutai Mountain, literally the "five-terrace mountain", is identified as the place where Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of wisdom (Wenshu Buddha), once lived and taught Buddhism.

It is the only holy mountain where both Chinese Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism were practiced, and it is commonly regarded as the most prestigious of the four sacred mountains.

The mountain is home to a rich legacy of temples and shrines, life-size clay sculptures, statues and paintings, and has traditionally served as a summer resort with the alternate name "Clear and Cool Mountain".

The hefty investment pledge is part of the Shanxi government's broader development strategy to strengthen the cultural sector and promote eco-friendly energy use, long overshadowed by a robust coal industry.

Under the plan, 665 million yuan will be allocated to improve environmental and housing conditions on eight major projects, including river treatment, installation of a waste disposal and sewage system, central heating and gas supply, and forest and wetland protection, Liu said.

About 80 million yuan will be used for the construction of a Buddhist culture museum, a geological museum, an exhibition hall presenting the mountain's bid for UNESCO world heritage listing, and a 4-D cinema. More funding is planned for forest-fire surveillance, shuttle-bus terminals and light-rail tracks.

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