Beijing, March 23 (IANS) A 303-year-old Tibetan monastery in northwest China's Gansu province is to get a facelift, an official said Friday.
The 300-million-yuan ($47.6 million) project will begin at Labrang Monastery in the second half of 2012 and last five years, said Sonam Je, deputy chief of culture and sports in Xiahe county, where the temple is located.
Labrang Monastery, built in 1709, is one of six prestigious monasteries of the Gelugpa Sect, also known as the Yellow Hat Sect, of Tibetan Buddhism.
Despite occasional repairs on the monastery in recent decades, the mud and wood structure is in urgent need of reinforcement due to cracks in the walls and rainwater leaking through its roof, Sonam Je told Xinhua.
These problems affect the life of the monastery's more than 1,000 lamas and may disrupt the religious observances of local Tibetan Buddhists, he added.
The problems also threaten the monastery's heritage pieces, including more than 30,000 Buddha statues, 65,000 volumes of Buddhist scriptures and a rich collection of sutras and murals.
The renovation will reinforce the heritage buildings without making alterations to their original looks, according to Sonam Je.
The renovation project has already begun on three halls, with an initial funding of 10 million yuan allocated last year, he said.
"We'll also refurnish the lamas' residences, pave the paths within the monastery compound, build a car park and revamp the sewage system," the official added.
Architectural designers from Beijing's Tsinghua University presented a renovation plan in 2009, and authorities are ready to solicit bids from qualified engineering companies, Sonam Je said.
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