XIGAZE, May 13 (Xinhua) -- Work started Wednesday at a thousand-year-old monastery in Tibet's Xigaze Prefecture to renovate the structure that is a rare blend of Tibetan and Chinese architectural styles.
Renovation of the Shalu Monastery, about 20 km from Xigaze City, would cost 16 million yuan (2.3 million U.S. dollars) and take about two years, said Soinam Norbu, an official with the prefectural government.
The project, one of Tibet's biggest heritage renovation projects under the 11th Five Year Plan (2006-2010), involves reinforcement of its buildings, maintenance of sewage treatment facilities and improvement of fire and flood control systems, he said.
"Pilgrims and tourists will not be banned during the renovation," he said.
Shalu Monastery made about 700,000 yuan a year, mostly from ticket revenues and alms offered by pilgrims, said Losel Gyatso, an official in charge of religious affairs.
The monastery was first built in 1027, but was destroyed in an earthquake. The existing structure was rebuilt in 1333 with money and building materials provided by the imperial court. Its abbot, Buton, also invited craftsmen from other Chinese areas to help rebuild the monastery.
"The structure therefore combines traditional Chinese and Tibetan styles," said Minyak Chokyi Gyaltsen, a renowned Tibetan architect.
The first floor of its main hall Shalu Lakhang followed Tibetan styles, but its second floor was built into a traditional Chinese quadrangle with houses on four sides. Glazed tiles, rarely seen in Tibetan buildings, were used on its roof, he said.
Last year, the central government launched a 570-million-yuan (81.43 million U.S. dollars) project to preserve 22 historical and cultural heritage sites in Tibet, including the Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery, the Jokhang, Ramogia, Sanyai and Samgya-Goutog monasteries.
The move came after a 330-million-yuan preservation project on the Potala Palace, Sagya Monastery and Norbu Lingka Palace.