29 March 2014
Maharashtra government’s plans to develop an international centre to attract tourist towards Nalasopara’s ancient stupa, built during King Ashoka’s period, is still on paper. This has led to the sacred Buddhist stupa to turn into a spot for drunkards and junkies. MMRDA had provisioned Rs10 crore for the restoration and development of the heritage site.
The stupa stands in a deserted place, away from the chaotic city life in Nalasopara. There is no security personnel to guard the place which has ancient idols belonging to the eighth century.
“Several times we forwarded this issue with the local authorities from ASI and the state government, but no steps have been taken to restrict drunkards to enter the sacred place. The beautification and development of the international centre for tourist attraction is still on the papers,” said Vijay Gaikwad, a resident.
“We will surely take action against people found indulging in illegal activities at the heritage site. We have a watchman posted to stop such kind of incidents and will enquire into the matter,” said a senior official from ASI, Mumbai circle.
Talking about history, the monastery was built by a trader named Purna, who turned into a monk after being inspired by Buddha’s teachings. The monastery was also inaugurated by Gautam Buddha. It was later converted into a stupa by emperor Ashoka during his reign. Ashoka’s son Mahendra and Sanghamitra then left for Sri Lanka.
“The stupa’s excavator Dr Bhagvanlal Indraji postulated that the stupa was built during the second century AD. According to him, it was connected with the legend of begging bowl of the Shakyamuni Buddha to be passed on to Maitreya, the future Buddha. Apart from the casket relic, the excavation had also yielded eight bronze images of Manushi Buddhas, datable around fifth to seventh century AD, according to researchers,” said Mayur Thakare, circle officer, ASI.