Himalayan Tourism News

Mayadevi temple in Lumbini the birth place of Buddha
Korean team of architects has purposed Master plan for Lumbini World Peace City. The new master plan spans the area of 25 sq miles around the existing master plan. It purposes to develop Lumbini in five circles- Buddha Zone (sacred place) at the center, encircled by Dharma Zone and then Sangha Zone, new rural villages and upasika and upasaka zone at the outer most circles.
To give the shape of the city as lotus, in Shanga Zone eight Sanghas have been designed in the shape petal of lotus. The estimated cost of the proposed plan is US$ 762 million with the completion period of 15 years.
The objective of the plan is to honor the Outstanding Universal value of Lumbini, sustainable development of historic environment and cultural heritages and presentation of Metaphysical Foundation Templates for the use in urban design of the Lumbini Viswa Shanti nagar and creation of Lumbini as Buddhist teaching and learning city, world citizens living city, environmentally sustaining city and reflection and meditation city.
The plan addresses the problems of increasing population, industrialization and haphazard constructions in and around Lumbini. The area is fast industrializing and unplanned concrete structures are fast growing.
The first master plan was designed by world famous Japanese architect Kenzo Tange in 1978. It provided outline for preserving the ancient ruins and making the remote pilgrimage site accessible. However, its completion is still in limbo because of unstable politics, conflict among Buddhist sects and local grievances.
The Chinese archaeologists have found a very small "pagoda" -- it sounds more like an ornate reliquary shaped like a pogoda -- that allegedly contains a gold coffin bearing part of the Buddha's skull inside a silver box. Scans have confirmed there are two metal boxes inside the pagoda, but no one has opened it to look at them. Apparently the scientists will not open the pagoda until they can do so without harming the contents. There is speculation the relics were in one of the 84,000 stupas said to have been commissioned by Ashoka the Great Empire of India (304 - 232 BCE). After the Buddha's cremation, his remains were divided into eight parts and placed into eight stupas. The Emperor Ashoka opened the stupas, further divided the relics and had them enshrined in 84,000 stupas scattered throughout his empire. In the late 6th century the Emperor Wen of the Sui Dynasty had stupas built all over China as a means to unite long-divided northern and southern China, further dividing the Buddha's relics. Many other stupas have been built in China, and elsewhere in Asia, since. One suspects that if the World-Honored One were reassembled, he'd be hundreds of feet tall and have numerous heads, legs, and hooves.
Recent excavations in Lumbini have unveiled pre-Ashokan village and shrine proving the history of the region being older than Indian Emperor Ashoka’s visit. Ruins of a thriving village with brick shrine dating back to 1,300 BC was discovered just few hundred meter south of the birth place of Buddha. “For the first time in South Asia, excavations have revealed a pre-Ashokan temple of brick, which itself was built over a wooden structure,” revealed Prof Robin Coningham of Durham University in UK, who co-directed a team of Nepali and international experts together with Kosh Prasad Acharya, at a press conference in Kathmandu. Until now, the earliest Buddhist temples have been attributed to Emperor Ashoka, who built a pillar and a brick temple in Lumbini in third century BC in his endeavour to spread Buddhism across the region. “These two discoveries are giant steps, which help us to better understand the origins of Lord Buddha’s life and the spiritual importance of Lumbini,” says Acharya Karma Sango Sherpa, the vice-chair the Lumbini Development Trust that looks after the preservation and management of the site.

Dalai Lama's Reincarnation

Dalai Lama’s reincarnation has been hot issues recently as his highness wished to abandon the reincarnation. Karmapa, the third highest Tibetan Buddhism’s religious head said that it is up to Dalai Lama to decide whether he will be reborn. In the interview with Radio Free Aisa, he also added that the don’t talk much about the reincarnation of a living master in Tibetan tradition. Both Dalai Lama and Karma Pa are living in exile in India. Chinese officials have been emphasizing that Dalai Lama had no right to discard the reincarnation.
"However, now many questions are being generated. In my view, it is only the Dalai Lama himself who should decide about his future reincarnation. So I am confident and have full trust in his decision. There are many presumptive statements and guess works, but I am not worried," he said. Karmapa is the most renowned Lama to have fled Tibet after the Chinese occupancy in 1950s. Karmapa fled to India via Mustang of Nepal in 2000. Tibetan Buddhism holds that the soul of a senior lama is reincarnated in the body of a child on his death.

Nepal Tibet Bhutan Tour

Nepal Tibet Bhutan Tour - 21 days

Historically China has been conferring these titles to the reincarnation. China says the tradition must continue and it must approve the next Dalai Lama. However the Nobel peace laureate, who fled his homeland in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, has said he thinks the title could end when he dies. Tibet's China-appointed governor last month accused the Dalai Lama of blasphemy for doubting reincarnation. Tibetans fear that China will use the issue of the Dalai Lama's religious succession to split Tibetan Buddhism, with one new Dalai Lama named by exiles and one by China after his death. In 1995, after the Dalai Lama named a boy in Tibet as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen Lama, the second highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, China put the boy under house arrest and installed another in his place. Many Tibetans spurn the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama as a fake.

Karma Pa to be prosecuted

A Tibetan monk having a highest profile to success the Dalai Lama is to be prosecuted for money laundering.
Bisket Jatra festival is celebrated during Nepalese new year and spring festival.

High court at Himachal Pradesh overturned a decision to drop charges and issued an order for authorities to open criminal proceedings against Karmapa Urgyen Trinley over the recovery of around $ 1 million in foreign currency during a raid on his Buddhist monastery in January 2011.
Stacks of bank notes of 26 different currencies were recovered from Karmapa’s monastery in Dharamshala. The monastery was raided after the tip off from two people who were pulled over by police in a car containing large amounts of cash. During interrogations, the pair said the money was meant for a land deal involving a trust headed by Trinley.
However, Karmapa has denied any misconduct and involvement in any land deals. He further said that the bank notes were donations from devotees gathered over the years. Trinley's spokesman, Kunzang Chungyalpa, said the lama had great faith in India's judicial system. "He strongly believes truth will prevail at the end."
Karmapa now 30 is the head of Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He was recognized as 17th reincarnation of the Karmapa Lama both by China and the Dalai Lama. He fled Tibet at the age of 14 via Mustang region of Nepal and reached Indian after eight days journey on foot and horseback.
He is seen as having the highest profile of an array of young lamas who could succeed the 80-year-old Dalai Lama. Their appearances together have increased speculation he is being groomed as the Nobel peace laureate's spiritual successor.

Nature and wildlife

Tiger population up in Nepal

Royal Bengal Tiger in Chitwan.
5th 'World Tiger Day' was celebrated in Kathmandu on 29th July.
According to the report pulbished, Tiger population increased by 63% since 2009. 198 Tigers were counted in last census. The number increased from 212 in 2010. Of the 198 tigers, 120 are in Chitwan National Park, 50 in Bardiya National Park, 17 in Shukla Phanta Wildlife Reserve, seven in Parsa Wildlife Reserve and four in Banke National Park. The Bardiya National Park is one of the best wild reserves for the endangered big cats.
Nepal had signed ‘St Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation’ with comitment to double the Tiger population by 2022. The global Tiger population has been reduced to 3,000 from 1,00,000 in last century. India has seen 30% increases in Tiger numbers since 2010.
The conservationists said that the initiative taken to make their participation and investment of revenue from tourism made it possible. Earlier, Tiger fear made some people even support poachers. In last few years, conservationists worked with people, built electronic fence, worked on increasing employment and revenue through tourism and gave bigger portion of the revenue to locals.
In another report, Experts from conservation group WWF has sighted China as herald in conservation of Tigers in Asia. Tiger parts are considered as status symbol and also used in traditional medicine in China.

Nepal - home of 534 Rhinos

Rhino poaching illegal horn trade was in its peak in last 20 years threatening the existence of the species at risk, according to the fresh report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and Traffic, a wildlife trade monitoring network. The report however lauds the conservation efforts in Nepal and India with an increased no of Asian single horned Rhinoceros. 2011 turned a success for conservationist as not a single case of rhino poaching was reported. Nepal is now home to 534 rhinos, up from 435 in 2008, according to a 2011 census. According to authorities the increase in no of rhinos is the result of intensive effort to preserve them in wild. Chitwan National Park is a major reserve of the endangered species, which has 408 out of 534 rhinos in Nepal. Rhino conservation in Nepal and India is satisfactory as there are parallel conservation efforts being made in spite of poaching. But the situation of the world’s two rarest rhino species - the Sumatran rhino and the Javan rhino—found in Indonesia and Malaysia, remains serious. The report, compiled by IUCN’s African and Asian Rhino Specialist Groups and Traffic and made public in Gland, Switzerland, on Tuesday, states that escalating levels of poaching and the illegal trade of rhino horns is threatening to reverse years of conservation efforts, particularly in Africa.

New species of Cat found in Nepal

The nearly threatened Pallas’ have been found for the first time in Nepal. The rare cat species, Octocolobus manul, was trapped in the camera in Upper Manang area. The cat indigenous to grassland and steep regions of Central Asia and was first found in Iran’s Khojir National Park in 2008 and later in Bhutan in 2012. Since then the Pallas have been found in 15 countries. The IUCN has listed these cats under threatened category for its declining population due to hunting, habitat loss and decline in prey base. A team comprising Coordinator of Snow Leopard Conservancy Project Bikram Shrestha, ACAP Manang Area Office Chief Sudip Adhikari and conservationist Tasi R Ghale found the new animal while conducting research on snow leopard. The cat was named after Peter Simon Pallas, a German zoologist and botanist, who discovered it in 1776. According to a study conducted in Mongolia, these species are between 46 and 65 meters long and weigh between 2.5 to 4.5 kilos with body covered with fur. Similarly, there tails are 21-31 centimeter long and these species are found in the mountain range of 5,050 meters above sea level.