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China to elevate 600-year-old religious site

Wednesday August 15, 2012 08:26:43 PM, IANS

Beijing: A 600-year-old religious building in central China will be raised 15 metres above ground by the year-end to prevent its inundation due to a water project.

The palace was built in 1412 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to commemorate Zhang Sanfeng, a Taoist and tai chi master.

Originally a complex with hundreds of palaces and rooms, only several gates and vestiges of walls and palaces remain. A main palace was burned to ashes in 2003 in an accidental fire. The site was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994.

Located on the edge of the Danjiangkou reservoir in the Wudang Mountains in Hubei province, the Yuzhen Palace would be submerged once the dam's height is increased, China Daily reported Wednesday.

The South-North Water Diversion Project, the world's largest such undertaking, will bring water from the massive Yangtze river in the south to meet demand in drought-prone cities in the north through three water-diversion routes.

According to Dai Zhanbiao, a senior engineer of Hebei Academy of Building Research, the project's contractor, the elevation started Aug 1 and is expected to be completed before the year-end

"By the end of the week, a palace gate had been raised one metre," he said, adding that the gates of the east and west palaces that have a combined weight of 7,000 tonnes.

The project will also raise the foundation and dismantle other vestiges of the site at an estimated cost of 200 million yuan (about $30 million), according to Shu Tao, director of Wudang Administration for Cultural Heritage and Religious Affairs.

The other vestiges of the site will be demolished and rebuilt in their original style after the site is elevated, Shu said.

"The site is as large as 56,780 square metres, so it is too difficult and risky to elevate the whole area," Shu said.







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