AP, TS Cross Swords over Buddhist Relics

A third century Potin coin exacavated from a Mahastupa in Phanigiri hillock of Nalgonda district | FILE photo

A third century Potin coin exacavated from a Mahastupa in Phanigiri hillock of Nalgonda district | FILE photo

New Indian Express
By Anil Kumar Published: 16th April 2016 05:35 AM

HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, which are trying to resurrect the rich Buddhist heritage sites in their respective states to attract tourists from across the world, are now in a new sort of quarrel over sharing precious relics that belong to the Buddhist era.

The claim of the two states to the historical objects that were found at Buddhist heritage sites seems to have hit a roadblock while distributing the artefacts between the sibling states even though two years have passed since the division of the united state.

Both the states are staking a claim to some precious artefacts and antiquities, particularly those belonging to the Buddhist era.

For example, the Telangana archaeology & museums department wants its AP counterpart to hand over the rare artefacts found at prime Buddhist centres like Nalgonda and Karimnagar, which had been shifted in the past to different museums in AP, to Telangana.

Similarly, AP Archaeology department officials want historical objects belonging to the Buddhist period that were found in places in Andhra, which are now in Hyderabad, to be given back to the reorganised state.

Interestingly, the chief ministers of AP and Telangana, N Chandrababu Naidu and K Chandrasekhar Rao respectively, are banking on the Buddha to woo investors from East Asian countries. As Buddhism had flourished in the Telugu land during the period of Mauryan empire and the mighty Satavahana regime, the governments of the two states have recently begun exploring the glorious past of Buddhism.

In this bid, the two governments are trying to resurrect rich Buddhist heritage sites in their respective states. For instance, after naming the new capital of AP after Amaravati, the ancient Buddhist heritage town in the state, the AP government is planning to develop two mega Buddhist Heritage Tourism Circuits covering 21 prominent Buddhist sites spread over eight districts in the state.

KCR too has announced recently that his government will develop Nagarjunasagar, the location of a massive irrigation dam, as a prominent place of Buddhist significance. As the place holds historical significance for Buddhism as a number of Buddhist monasteries had existed there in the past and inscriptions having been found in excavations, the state government had decided to develop ‘Buddhavannam’ at Nagarjunasagar, Rao added.

But, their enthusiastic efforts to revive Buddhist heritage sites are not moving forward as both states are crossing swords with each other over sharing of precious artefacts. To sort out the issue, the two governments have set up panels but nothing has been done in this regard.

Against this backdrop, senior officials of the archaeology and museums department are meeting in Hyderabad next week to discuss the issue of division of gold and silver coins and other important artefacts between the two states.

“This meeting is very crucial. We want to resolve the issue at the earliest and take control of things which belong to us,” a top official of the AP archaeology department told Express.

Though the department of archaeology and museums of unified AP was bifurcated on June 2, 2014, lakhs of antiquities are yet to be divided between the two states.

As per the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, antiquities at State Museum in the Public Gardens in Hyderabad, chemical laboratory, library books, photography, section and departmental publications in the directorate offices of the then united AP await division between the two successor states.

Each artefact is to be apportioned according to the area where it was excavated, received as donation, purchased or found as treasure trove. In case of unknown provenance, it could be divided as per the state bifurcation ratio.

Buddhism in Telugu Land

Buddhism had flourished in the Telugu land during the reign of the Mauryan empire and the mighty Satavahana regime. Now, interestingly, Naidu and KCR are banking on the Buddha to woo investors from East Asian countries to their respective states

Antiquities and artefacts that are preserved in State Level Museum and other repositories in Hyderabad yet to be distributed between AP and Telangana
The distribution of all artefacts is to be done in accordance with the regions where they were excavated or found, received as donation, purchased or found as treasure trove.

Lakhs of antiquities, namely, coins, manuscripts, stone and bronze sculptures and others that date back to thousands of years are preserved at the State Museum in Hyderabad

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