Monks hit bid to commercialize famed Chinese Buddhist temple

(Photo:REUTERS /Stringer)A man (R) and two Buddhist monks walk around a Porsche car as they pray for safety and good fortune for the car and the driver, near a giant statue of Buddhist goddess Guanyin (rear), at a temple in Xiaogan, Hubei province August 6, 2014

Plans by tourism officials in China's Yunnan province to turn an ancient Buddhist temple into a major tourist destination are on hold after monks there closed it to tourists on August 15 in protest.

The gates to the Panlong Temple sitting on Panlong Mountain, 40 kilometers (24 miles) from downtown Kunming, were shut last week due to a county and township government plan to "upgrade, commercialize and corporatize" the temple, reported The Epoch Times.

Monks residing in the temple placed a sign next to the door.

It read: "Due to the fact that Jinning County government and the Jincheng Township government wish to commercialize and corporatize the Panlong Temple, disrupting the temple's order, [it] has decided today to temporarily shut the gates for a quiet meditation environment.

Advertisement

"Please understand and forgive us," read the sign.

Tourists who showed up at the temple hoping to tour its grounds burned incense outside instead, reported The Epoch Times.

It also quoted Ren Qing, a monk at the Panlong Temple, as saying that it was the first time that the temple took such action.

"We monks can't live a life of commercialization," the same monk was also quoted as saying by Ecns.cn, the official English-language website of China News Service.

The closure of the temple was made after a local government meeting on August 14.

It discussed sprucing up Wanghai ("sea watching") Pavilion, which is a part of the centuries-old temple complex, local media reported.

The proposed upgrade would hike ticket prices said some critics of the scheme.

It also included establishing a museum and a multimedia room inside the pavilion, which offers a more impressive view of the town and a lake.

But the local government announced that the temple was reopened two days after the closure following negotiations with the abbot, said Ecns.cn.

Local officials said it will not push through with its plans to upgrade the Wanghai Pavilion, denying that it proposed to commercialize the temple.

They explained that the local government only intended to spruce up the pavilion and "build it into a place" that will show the culture of the Panlong Temple and Yunnan region.

They also said that the misunderstanding between the government and the monks was due to the lack of "sufficient communication," reported Ecns.cs.

"After several meetings and enough communication, the misunderstanding has been cleared," said the local government.

Copyright © 2014 Ecumenical News