Bendigo, March 24: The Andrews Government is helping crown Bendigo’s majestic Great Stupa of Universal Compassion with a $2.5 million grant.

Minister for Regional Development, Jaala Pulford joined Member for Bendigo, West Maree Edwards and Member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan in announcing the funding today while visiting the Great Stupa, cementing Bendigo’s position as an international travel destination and a place of multi-faith expression.

The impressive landmark, with its 50m² base and 50m height, is modelled on the 15th century Great Stupa of Gyantse in Tibet, and once complete, will be the largest Stupa in the western world.

Tourists have been flocking to the monument since it opened to visitors in 2012. It attracts more than 25,000 visitors annually and numbers are projected to exceed 90,000 per year within 10 years.

The Victorian Government, as part of its flagship Regional Tourism and Infrastructure Fund is investing in the $5 million project to complete construction of the Great Stupa and deliver essential services for visitors.

To be delivered in two stages – it will include the completion of the outstanding structural works, including the spire and parasol, as well as the installation of water and waste utilities to support the growing visitor numbers.

Construction of Stage 1 is due to be complete in mid-2018, in time for the international festival and installation of the Jade Buddha inside the Great Stupa – a globally recognised event that will attract thousands of visitors to Bendigo.

The Great Stupa at two hours’ drive north of Melbourne promotes a calming social cohesion, seating amidst the ironbark gums with the sun shining off its striking white exterior.

Covered with intricate artwork and traditional prayer wheels, the structure is a life force for many – a 13-metre long tree trunk through the centre of the construction.

The structure hosts 80 shrine rooms, teaching spaces and a library. The holy relics in glassed wall cavities appropriately ornate the central temple with 2.5-metres tall Jade Buddha for Universal Peace, encouraging awareness and support of cultural diversity.

The Buddhist structure has also put Bendigo on the tourist map and brought in many economic benefits.

Minister for Multicultural Affairs Robin Scott said that theGreat Stupa is a wonderful example of our state’s rich cultural heritage and these improvements will make Bendigo’s Great Stupa the largest in the western world.”

Member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards also spoke of the Stupa as a “tourism destination” that was a unique and majestic attraction.

Shalini Singh

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