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Historic Prison Prepares for Tourists

Tibet's largest historic prison is currently under repair and expected to be opened to the public in May of next year.

Costing 500,000 yuan (US$60,241), the Langzisha project aims to restore the original look of the prison and help people learn about Tibet's history, said local officials.

The prison is being repaired for the second time since the decade-long turmoil of the "cultural revolution" that ended in 1976.

Losang Jigme, who is in charge of the project, said on Friday that the reconstruction team will repair the walls and roof of the three-story building, all nine cells of the prison, a court room and the prison control room. Due to long years of disrepair and humidity damage, some walls were on the verge of collapse.

Situated on Bargor Street in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, and with an area of 720 square meters, Langzisha is a typical example of Tibetan architecture.

It was built by the Fifth Dalai Lama in the middle of the 17th century and was originally meant to be the government headquarters of Lhasa, but was later turned into a prison. Even in the first half of the 20th century, Tibet remained a theocratic and feudal society with less than 5 percent of the population controlling the rest.

The prison stored many tools of torture and punishment, including for gouging out eyes, cutting off ears, hands and feet, pulling out tendons and skinning people -- but tourists can expect a much warmer reception when they visit!

(China Daily October 18, 2004)


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