China is Demolishing the World’s Largest Tibetan Buddhist Institution, Displacing Thousands of Monks

China is demolishing an ancient Buddhist institution which is not only driving its residents away but is threatening Tibetan heritage as well. Larung Gar is a city that’s teeming with cultural heritage and is considered to be an iconic landmark of Tibetan culture.

However, China’s ongoing demolition efforts might entail considerable damage to the Tibetan monk community. As a matter of fact, about 3,730 residents were forced to leave the city after a reported 1,500 residences were torn down, according to TheDiplomat.

Among those evicted were over a hundred monks and over a thousand nuns, all forced to evacuate by bus. Furthermore, Chinese authorities don’t seem to be offering the residents any explanation as to why homes are being taken away.

With over 40,000 residents living in Larung Gar, it’s easy to assume that overpopulation might be the root of the problem. While that could be the case, the source suggests that something else might be going on.

Canadian-Chinese David Chan traveled to Larung Gar to unravel the mystery behind China’s demolition efforts. Chan spoke with a local nun in the city who explained to him that overpopulation isn’t the problem since China could easily build more structures given the city’s massive landscape.

Chan has concluded that the real verdict lies within China’s ulterior motives in turning the city into an “area for tourism and economic activity.” Chan believes their goals aren’t to completely get rid of Tibetan monks and nuns but rather make them highlights of the city as a tourist attraction.

After all, Larung Gar is known as a “city in the sky” at an elevation of 13,000 feet high, making it a perfect tourist spot for trekkers and backpackers. However, Chan believes all of these come at a “huge cultural cost” since Larung Gar is supposed to be a place dedicated to being a Buddhist academic landmark.

Furthermore, the number of pure Tibetan residents are dwindling in the city as the population of Han Chinese locals continues to rise. While China hopes good fortune will come to the city from its tourism, its priceless cultural heritage might not be sticking around as long as demolition continues.

Feature Image via Flickr/Valerian Guillot (CC BY 2.0)

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