In 623 BC Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in Lumbini, southern Nepal. A holy site, it has long been a place of pilgrimage, and Emperor Ashoka built a commemorative pillar there in 249 BC. In 2013 AD, an international consortium has plans to make Lumbini an amusement park, Buddhaland.
Lumbini is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is protected by Nepal’s Ancient Monument Preservation Act of 1956, but the 21st century has a different set of values. Wunan Xiao of China’s Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation came up with the development plan; other participants include Steven Clark Rockefeller Jr, investor and American Jewish Congress leader Jack Rosen, real estate tycoon Leon Charney, bad-boy and deposed Nepali Crown Prince Paras, and Nepal’s Maoist ex-Prime Minister Prachanda.
Centerpiece of the new project will be the Lumbini Cloud Tower designed by Texas-born architect Eric R. Kuhne, known for designing Bluewater, Europe’s biggest shopping center and Kuwait’s grandiose “City of Silk.” When completed, the Cloud Tower attraction will be operated by VTP Global as a Vertical Theme Park, “an incredible city centre entertainment tower incorporating observation galleries, extreme activities, real estate and most importantly, a breathtaking mix of family and adrenaline rides at heights never before dreamed possible.” What a remarkable take on the contemplative nature of Buddhism.
“Buddha loses his serenity to a theme park,” Jason Burke, The Guardian
“At Buddha’s birthplace: A Chinese development proposal causes disbelief,” The Economist
“Archeologists Think They’ve Unearthed the Buddha’s Nativity Site,” Rachel Nuwer, Smithsonian Magazine blog
Image (“Buddhaland, Artist’s Concept”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
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