Text description provided by the architects. Yushu is a highly regarded religious center to Tibetans. Its significance comes mainly from Jianamani, the world's largest Tibetan Buddhist cairn. With a history of over 3 centuries, Jianamani currently bears over 250 million pieces of Mani stones, and is still growing with new pieces added daily by pilgrims.
In Yushu, more than 40% of the populations live on the carving of Mani stones. To the Yushu community, nothing compares to Jianamani. After the 2010 earthquake, Yushu-ers immediately set off to repair Jianamani, long before they started repairing their own houses.
The Jianamani Visitor Center serves both visitors and the local community. To visitors and pilgrims, it provides information about Jianamani and its history complemented by viewing the surrounding historical sites. To local Yushu-ers, it provides a post office, a clinic, public toilets and a small research archive.
The Jianamani Visitor Center consists of a square building with a courtyard in the center, and 11 observation decks surrounding it. The central square volume features the typical Tibetan layout. Of the 11 observation decks, 2 point to Jianamani, 9 point to historic / religious sites related to Jianamani, including: Leciga, Genixibawangxiou, Cuochike, Dongna Zhunatalang Taiqinleng, Zhaqu River Valley, Lazanglongba, Rusongongbu, Naigu River Beach, and Kuanyin Rebirth Site.
The Jianamani Visitor Center is mainly built with the local construction techniques. The stone masonry is done by local masons, using the same kind of local rock from which Mani stones are carved. The railings around the roof terrace and the observation decks are made of wood, with some parts recycled from earthquake debris.