Renovated Qinghai Lamasery Reopens to Public

The main hall of a reputed ancient lamasery in west China's Qinghai Province reopened to the public on Tuesday after a major renovation lasting several months.

The Grand Golden Tile Hall is one of the oldest and most important buildings in the Gumbum Lamasery, known as the "Ta'er Temple" in Chinese.

It is said to be built on the exact birth place of Tzongkhapa, founder of the influential Gelugba Sect or Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism and a tutor of the Panchen and Dalai Lamas. This ranks Gumbum Lamasery among the six most eminent lamaseries of the Gelugba Sect, making it world-renowned among Buddhists.

At 6 a.m. Tuesday, lamas in the Gumbum Lamasery, 20 km from the provincial capital of Xining, started reciting scriptures and lit 1,000 butter lamps to celebrate the reopening of the main hall, while thousands of religious believers and visitors crowded into the lamasery compound.

The 17th century structure of the Grand Golden Tile Hall was found to be eroded by wind, rain and insects, with some of the walls developing cracks.

The Chinese government allocated 36 million yuan (US$4.5 million) and 160 kg of gold for its renovation, said Ma Lan, director of cultural relics division of the Culture Department of Qinghai Provincial Government.

During the renovation, damaged wooden pieces were either repaired or replaced and the entire wooden structure received anti-insect and antisepsis treatment, said Ma, adding that a new lightning rod was also installed.

(Xinhua News Agency August 6, 2002)

Restoration Begins on Buddhist Temples