The Times of India
Pranav Chaudhary,TNN | Oct 12, 2014, 10.58 PM IST
PATNA: Bihar government has decided to develop the ‘footprints of Buddha circuit’ sites located in four districts of the state. Most of these sites are ASI-protected monuments which need immediate care and upkeep. To popularize and generate awareness about these places, the department of tourism, Bihar, has decided to organize ‘walking tourism’ from Bodh Gaya in December.
“The available evidence suggests that Lord Buddha had visited Rampurva, Lauriya Nandangarh, Areraj, Kesariya, Vaishali and Hajipur during his journey to Bodh Gaya,” says an expert.
Bihar tourism minister Dr Jawaid Iqbal Ansari said all the sites associated with Lord Buddha pilgrimage tour would be developed to attract Buddhist pilgrims. It would be major attraction for all the Buddhists across the world. Recently, he made an appeal to various tour and travel operators from across the world to prepare an itinerary package covering all such places for the tourists as well as Buddhist pilgrims.
According to official sources, the Centre is already working on Buddha heritage project in which Buddhist sites located in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh would be covered. Additional secretary (tourism) GOI, Girish Shankar, said the Centre is ready to assist the state government in developing the Buddhist circuit. To popularize the Buddha’s footprints, state tourism department has decided to organize a ‘walking tourism’ from Bodh Gaya in the first week of December. Several Buddhist monks and pilgrims are expected to participate in it, he said.
The final route plan is being chalked out, said a government official. In 2012, the then ASI director general had given necessary directions to its officials to make a detailed report on the routes associated with Lord Buddha. The ASI’s directives came following a survey report of these sites by a group of experts. The team leader of the group, Ajit K Prasad, former deputy director, archaeology, government of Bihar, said the ASI DG had assured him to develop all these sites.
Way back in 2012, an eight-member team led by Ajit K Prasad had visited these sites in East and West Champaran, Muzaffarpur and Vaishali to authenticate the footprints of Buddha.
Rampurva in West Champaran is the most important Buddhist site after Lumbini, Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar. This site has the potential to be developed as a major tourist destination. Famous Chinese traveller Xuanzang had also mentioned this site in his travel accounts.
The experts also mentioned some lesser known Buddhist sites which need immediate protection and conservation like Bhikhna Thori, Hetukunwar, Mahayogini, Shahodra, Baudh Barva, Chanmari, Jagdishpur, Chankigarh (all in West Champaran), Sagardih and Nawniardhi (East Champaran).