Buddhist sites: grandiose plans fail to see light

The damaged base of the main stupa at the Buddhist monument at Thotlakonda.— PHOTO: C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

The damaged base of the main stupa at the Buddhist monument at Thotlakonda.— PHOTO: C.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

June 18, 2015 05:46 IST
B. MADHU GOPAL

Thotlakonda, Bavikonda in district cry for attention

Notwithstanding the grandiose plans being made by the successive governments for over a decade now, the monuments at the Buddhist heritage sites at Thotlakonda and Bavikonda are lying in a state of neglect.

A visit to Thotlakonda on Wednesday revealed that not much has changed during the last decade. The base of the main stupa has been damaged and heaps of damaged ancient bricks and material were seen lying at some places.

The centuries-old rock ‘thotlu’ (cisterns) with steps leading into them, for drawing of rain water, are still serving their purpose of collection of rain water. Tourists arriving by the AP Tourism buses are greeted by the monumental ruins and the sign boards and other amenities damaged by cyclone Hudhud in October last year.

One cannot, however, ignore the laying of roads, landscaping and provision of some basic amenities at Thotlakonda and Bavikonda by the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA) over a decade ago and works taken up in subsequent years.

Coordination needed

The monuments can be protected only when scientific restoration is done to protect the stupas, chaityagrihas and relics discovered at the heritage sites. A proper coordination between the Archaeology and Tourism Departments and VUDA is needed for this purpose.

“The rich cultural heritage of Bhavikonda, Thotlakonda and Pavuralakonda, dating back to the 3rd century BC and the ashes of the Buddha, found in a Mahasthupa at Bavikonda, need to be protected. We cannot afford to lose them. Protecting them will also help tourism development in a big way,” says CII Vizag Chapter former chairman G. Sambasiva Rao.

“Thai tourists are willing to come here but there is no information on the Buddhist heritage sites available on the east coast, the Deputy Consul General (Commercial), Royal Thai (Chennai), Tharadol Thongruang”, said at a recent meeting organised by the CII in the city.

“Estimates have been sent for development of tourist information centres and public amenities at the Buddhist heritage sites at Thotlakonda and Bhavikonda in the city at an estimated cost of Rs.80 lakh and Rs.76 lakh respectively.

Tenders will be called once the approval of the government was received,” Tourism General Manager G. Bheemasankara Rao told The Hindu recently.

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