Valerian Guillot is licensed under  CC BY 2.0

Valerian Guillot is licensed under CC BY 2.0

China is rebuilding Buddhist complex Larung Gar.

China is reconstructing the expansive Larung Gar complex to improve public health and safety. The complex was home to monks and nuns numbering in the thousands. There were also a number of lay persons who went there to study Buddhism's more esoteric aspects. According to state media and corroborated by local officials, only a few structures were demolished to clear lanes so firefighters can come in to the complex.

Teams sent by the Chinese Government had thrown out a large number of monks before, with one drive in 2001. The subsequent years have seen people coming back. A 2014 fire destroyed approximately 150 houses. No injuries or deaths were reported.

The Larung Gar site, other than the temples and the seminary, includes a settlement created from numerous log cabins. These line the valley's steep sides. They offer accommodation for both visitors and residents who come to the place to study religious courses for the shorter term.

Jiang Zhiming, the spokesperson for the county government, said the same to the media. He declined to say how many devout Buddhists continued to reside on the site, but added that approximately 800 people have been relocated to a nearby town. The spokesperson added that the reconstruction was being done to ensure that residents of the complex enjoy a better quality of life. The elimination of fire hazards was also included in the civil undertaking.

The Larung Gar seminary was constructed in 1980 and had 4,000 residents. The design, according to Chinese officials, was poor and it grew organically over the years. Further construction, as per Chinese media, happened without any regard to geological risks- even though the site is located in an area known to be seismically active.

The Buddhist seminary is located in Sertar county of Sichuan province. This is a mountainous region remote from the world. Foreign media rarely ventures there. Information which comes from that area cannot be easily verified. It did not help matters that the Larung Gar and its immediate area has witnessed a number of self-immolations both lay individuals and as well as by the Tibetan clergy. They protested against suppression by Beijing. The protesters also demanded that their exiled spiritual guru, the Dalai Lama returns without repercussions from the Chinese Government. The latter has also cherry picked their own Panchen Lama, the second in command of Tibetan Buddhism. The Chinese also wants better regulation of Buddhist clergy and temples.

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