Grand plans to develop tourism circuit

Restoring past glory:A team of the Archaeology and Tourism Department inspecting the Buddhist maha stupa at Nelakondapalli of Khammam district on Thursday.— PHOTO: G.N. RAO

Restoring past glory:A team of the Archaeology and Tourism Department inspecting the Buddhist maha stupa at Nelakondapalli of Khammam district on Thursday.— PHOTO: G.N. RAO

The Hindu, October 21, 2016 07:49 IST

It will encompass the Buddhist maha stupa, two ancient Siva temples of Kakatiya era, and the historic fort of Khammam

A grand plan is on the anvil to develop a tourism circuit encompassing the famous Buddhist maha stupa at Nelakondapalli, two ancient Siva temples of Kakatiya era in Kusumanchi, and the historic fort of Khammam — all located within a 30 km radius in Khammam district.

In a significant step in the direction of improving access to the ancient Buddhist site at Nelakondapalli, the Roads and Buildings Department initiated a plan to widen the existing single-lane 1.8 km-long approach road from Khammam-Kodad highway to Mujjugudem, where the Buddhist maha stupa is located.

Minister for Roads and Buildings T. Nageswara Rao laid the foundation stone for the road widening works said to cost Rs 4.49 crore, at Mujjugudem on Thursday. He also reviewed the tourism promotion plans with the officials concerned at Nelakondapalli.

The sprawling Buddhist site, which attracted monks from across South Asia during the bygone era, is set to hog the limelight if the ambitious plans mooted by the government departments to preserve and tap the tourism potential are any indication. Continue reading

Salihundam Buddhist heritage site, museum need attention

Times of India
Sulogna Mehta | Oct 17, 2016, 19:06 IST

VISAKHAPATNAM: Salihundam has all the ingredients of becoming one of the most sprawling, beautiful Buddhist heritage sites in the state with at least a dozen excavated stupas and chaitya-grihas of various geometric patterns and shape, a museum with rock-cut statues ranging from about third to seventh century AD, a lovely landscape with well-kept lawns and greenery situated on an elevation, which offers a scenic view of the serene surroundings with the Vamshadhara River flowing down by its one side and lush paddy fields on other. Yet, just like most heritage spots of our country, this Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) site too is pushed into oblivion and shabbily maintained with no funds forthcoming for its upliftment.

Situated nearly 140 kilometres from Vizag city, in Gara mandal of Srikakulam district, a mandal already known for its famous Arasavalli (Sun God) and Srikurmam (tortoise incarnation of Lord Vishnu) temples, the Buddhist heritage site of Salihundam has some unique features. It has a beautiful star atop a stupa, rock cut massive stupas inside chaitya grihas, brick stupas with wheel pattern plan, votive stupas, inscriptions on the steps leading to the stupas and a museum housing around two dozen sculpted statues and figurines of Buddha, Jain Teerthankaras and other deities, which had been excavated from Sailihundam and a few brought from nearby areas including Ramateertham and Srimukhalingam.

But sadly, apart from the fact that it is a protected ASI site, there are no information centre, signages or boards to explain visitors about the significance of the museum structures or even their names, from where and when they were excavated. Neither is there information about the variously patterned stupas and chaityas scattered at the site. Instead, flock of sheep and herds of goats and cattle are grazing on the overgrown grass on the site. The monument attendant or multi-transport service (MTS) staff say that the site was excavated in the 1950s and that Salihundam was ruled by the Chakravarthy dynasty. However, with no authentic brochure or booklets available about this site, the veracity of the claims of the ASI staff are questionable. “We are four staff members here. The site is hardly frequented by people, except some picnickers who come for a site for picnic without interest in the archaeological aspects of the place. Rarely foreigners or tourists come here in buses,” said P Mritunjaya, an ASI staff. Continue reading

Recently posted on

Articles of interest to our readers:

Aurelia Campbell
“A Fifteenth-Century Sino-Tibetan Buddha Hall at the Lu Family Tusi.” Archives of Asian Art 65, 1-2 (2015): 87-115

Luca Maria Olivieri

Michelle C. Wang
Bookmarked by Bernard Faure
(2016) “The Thousand-armed Mañjuśrī at Dunhuang and Paired Images in Buddhist Visual Culture.” Archives of Asian Art 66.1: 81-105

Nepal’s most popular Buddhist nun is a musical rock star

d9171742e5174a7d9ea903c07c198615Yahoo News
October 13, 2016

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — There is one Buddhist nun everyone in Nepal knows by name — not because she’s a religious icon and a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, nor for her work running a girl’s school and a hospital for kidney patients.

Ani Choying Drolma is famous as one of the country’s biggest pop stars.

With more than 12 albums of melodious Nepali tunes and Tibetan hymns that highlight themes of peace and harmony, the songstress in saffron robes has won hearts across the Himalayan nation and abroad.

“I am totally against the conservative, conventional idea of a Buddhist nun,” the 45-year-old nun said. Some people “think a Buddhist nun should be someone who does not come out in the media so much, who is isolated … always in a monastery, always shy. But I don’t believe in that.”

Neither do her fans, who greet her with a roar of applause whenever she walks out on stage, and fall silent as she closes her eyes to sing.

“Every time I get frustrated with life or get angry, I just listen to Ani’s music and I calm down,” said one fan, Sunil Tuladhar. “She is my music goddess.”

But with a career deviating sharply from what conservatives in Nepal believe to be the proper path of a Buddhist, she’s caught criticism as well. One Buddhist monk at the famed Swayambhu Shrine questioned how she can reconcile the simple life of a religious ascetic with the fame and wealth she’s amassed over her two-decade musical career.

“How can a nun be making money by selling her voice, living a luxurious life and yet claim she is a nun?” Surya Shakya asked. Continue reading

Exploring China’s new frontier e

Reporter: Han Bin 丨

10-12-2016 13:01 BJT

The Ancient Silk Road was not only a trade route, but also a corridor for ideas to flow.

Today in the Uygur Autonomous Region, the major religion is Islam. Prior to the arrival of Islam, it was Buddhism. One of the greatest legacies from that time is the murals, in the Grottoes of Qiuci, another name for the ancient kingdom of Kucha. 

In today’s episode, reporter Han Bin takes us to see the paintings and what’s being done to restore them.

Entering an ancient kingdom, the paintings reveal a lost oasis on the Silk Road. For the past 18 years, Ye Mei has been investigating their secrets.

“I’ve always been curious to study how murals drawn some 2,000 years ago, have survived to this day. How can we better protect them to extend their survival in the future?” said Ye Mei, director of Institute of Qiuci Grottoes Protection.

Ye Mei told us the grottoes house the cultural achievements of the region’s ancient ethnic groups.

They show that ancient civilization was built on the integration of the dominant Buddhist culture with several other religious cultures.

The murals are rich and diverse in content. But time and the elements have taken their toll. And the actual number of grottoes and murals is still a mystery.

Ye said, “Qiuci was a very inclusive and prosperous society. It was a key hub of the ancient Silk Road, a key melting pot for different cultures. These characteristics are fully reflected in the paintings. Like this figure: he’s a high-ranking nobleman, with short hair, a half-length robe, and a small sword.”

For a long time, Qiuci was the most populous oasis in the Tarim Basin. The Qiuci Grottoes are the most famous Buddhist art site in Xinjiang. The influence of the different civilizations from the West and the East were profound. The glory enjoyed over one thousand years ago still lingers today. Continue reading

Caves declared open for photographers

020161010230233Source: Xinhua | October 11, 2016, Tuesday

MORE than 100 photographers from China and overseas gathered at the Mogao Caves in northwest China’s Gansu Province yesterday to be allowed in to take pictures for the first time.

The Mogao Caves, also known as the Thousand-Buddha Caves, are one of the largest and best-preserved sites of Buddhist art.

The Dunhuang Academy, the authority in charge of research, protection and management at the site, is sponsoring a six-day photographic event, in conjunction with the provincial literature and art circles federation, with the aim of demonstrating the art and historical richness of the caves.

Five caves dating to different historical periods will be open to photographers though the academy will retain the copyright of all photos, which will be reviewed and selected by experts with the results published on the official websites of the academy and the provincial photographers’ association.

Wang Xudong, the academy’s head, said: “Hopefully more people will understand the caves by photographing and joining the army that protects the precious cultural relics.”

The 1,600-year-old Mogao Caves feature a huge collection of Buddhist artworks — more than 2,000 sculptures and 45,000 square meters of frescoes in 735 caves carved along a cliff. It was China’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, inscribed in 1987.


Getting a feel of the Buddhist circuit

Exposure visit:The team of foreign delegates inspecting artefacts at the Gandhi Centenary Museum in Karimnagar town on Sunday.— Photo: By arrangement

Exposure visit:The team of foreign delegates inspecting artefacts at the Gandhi Centenary Museum in Karimnagar town on Sunday.— Photo: By arrangement

The Hindu, October 10, 2016 05:39 IST

A team of foreign delegates are on a tour intended to showcase the rich Buddhist monuments of Telangana in the international tourism arena

A team comprising connoisseurs of art and culture, history enthusiasts, and travel writers from various European and Asian countries evinced keen interest in Buddhist Maha Stupa at Nelakondapalli in Kusumanchi mandal on Saturday.

The team consisting of foreign delegates, including Desmond B., head of department, Buddhist Research Centre, London, visited the famous Buddhist site at Nelakondapalli as part of the post-Mart conclave tour being organised by the Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation (TSTDC) across the State.

The tour is intended to showcase the rich Buddhist monuments and highlight the glorious cultural heritage of Telangana in the international tourism arena. The foreign delegates appreciated the efforts by both the State and Central governments to conserve the famous Buddhist site of historical significance for posterity.

TSTDC officials Venkateswara Rao and Srinivas, among others, accompanied the delegates.

Karimnagar Special Correspondent adds: The delegates also visited Karimnagar district on Sunday to inspect various historical Buddhists sites and other ancient historical structures in the district.


The delegates visited the Gandhi centenary museum in Karimnagar and inspected the ancient monuments and sculptures. Later, they visited Dhulikatta in Eligaid mandal, Satavahana dynasty’s first capital city Koti Lingala in Velgatoor mandal, Dharmapuri temple shrine, Vemulawada, and Badanakurthi in Adilabad district.

Tourism Development Corporation officers D.V.M.K.V. Venkateshwara Rao and Shyamsuder Rao, Archaeology Department officials Ranga Chary and Bhanu Murthy, and District Tourism Officer Venkateshwara Rao were also present.