Category Archives: Travel/Tourism

Buddha Mahotsava kicks off in Arunachal with vibrant cultural display

ANI | Bomdila (Arunachal Pradesh)
November 5, 2016 Last Updated at 08:16 IST

Buddha Mahotsava celebration in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh began with vibrant cultural display from Monpa, Sajolang(Miji) Aka, Sartang, Bugun and Sherdukpen tribes of the region here at Buddha Park, Bomdila.

The unique cultural display from each tribe mesmerized the crowd and filled the air with joy.

Organised by the District Administration of West Kameng, Buddha Mahotsava is a three-day Buddhist festival (November 4-6) held in Bomdila, West Kameng district, Arunachal Pradesh to promote tourism in the state.

The festival commemorates the life and teachings of Lord Gautama Buddha.

Hundreds of Buddhist monks playing cymbals and drums are present at the festival.

Dancers in traditional attire take the centre stage amidst chanting and drum beating and demonstrated various facets of Arunachal Pradesh’s dance and music.

The festival brings out the Buddhist influence on the life of the people in Arunachal Pradesh. Continue reading

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

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.


Situationer: Pakistan and Lanka tread the path of Buddhist heritage


Pakistan and Sri Lanka have embarked on a new journey in bilateral relations by benefiting from a common Buddhist heritage.

Till the end of Lanka’s war with the Tamil Tiger rebels in mid-2009, the relationship was based on military support to the Lankan government. However, a gradual cultural orientation was in the offing in Pakistan’s diplomatic policy with Sri Lanka. In 2007, the book Buddhist Gandhara — History, Art and Architecture, written by a Pakistani musicologist and archaeologist, Mr Ihsan H Nadiem, was translated into Sinhala.

In 2009, the then Pakistan High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Seema Baloch, revived Pakistan’s ancient links with the Buddhist world, with the intention of introducing the Lankan public to the archaeological, aesthetic and cultural diversity of its neighbouring state.

Muhammed Daud Ehtisham, the Press Attache in 2010 and the principal cultural aficionado in the Pakistan High Commission, led the shaping of the new stage of Pak-Lanka relations, expanding it with arts and culture-related initiatives.

He compiled a publication, Majestic Pakistan, this year and published it in three official languages in Sri Lanka: English, Sinhala and Tamil. He felt that these efforts would help in breaking stereotypes about Pakistan by offering glimpses of Pakistan’s landscape and culture with a separate section dedicated to Buddhist sites and their archaeological relevance.

Among the famous Buddhist sites mentioned in the publication are the Takht-i-Bahi, a monastic complex 80 kilometres from Peshawar. It was unearthed in the early 20th century and included in the Unesco World Heritage list. Mohra Muradu, a 3rd century monastery based in Taxila, is among other sites mentioned in the book. Continue reading


The Pioneer, Tuesday, 27 September 2016 | Sugyan Choudhury | in Bhubaneswar

A Keralite by birth but an Odishan by choice having four decades of experience in travel and tourism; Benjamin Simon is the unofficial brand ambassador of Odisha tourism. He is a member of the advisory board to Odisha ecotourism and a member of the advisory board to Odisha Tourism. Having had his schooling from the celebrated Infant Jesus School and his college education from the Fatima Mata National College, Kerala, Benjamin has an additional advantage with his brilliant accent and suave manners to interact with foreign tourists and entice them and to market Odisha tourism overseas. “Odisha with its 480-km-long coastline, sylvan shores, dense forests with flora and fauna, tribal heritage, Buddhist monuments, adorned with quintessential temple art and architectures is like a sleeping giant, which needs to be awakened to the level of world-class tourism second to none globally,” opines Simon. In an interview to The Pioneer, Simon, a living encyclopedia on Odisha tourism, shared his brilliant ideas with Sugyan Choudhury for turning Odisha into a vibrant tourism State to earn huge foreign exchanges for banishing poverty and unemployment from the State.

How and when were you initiated into the tourism sector?

It is like a story of my yesterday. It was the year 1977. As a student of history, I had my visions settled in Konark, and I wanted to visit the place somehow or other. I came to Odisha without knowing a b c about tourism. Once while I was sitting with my uncle in the lobby of Prachi Hotel now called Marion, I chanced upon an American executive with his friends. They loved my accent and manners and wanted me to accompany them in their daily tours. They were feeling like fish out of water owing to the communication gap with local people. I helped them for a month and they gave me some dollars. It was both paying and as well as exciting for a young man like me to come in contact with foreign tourists and being appreciated by them. This motivated me and I began travelling to the inaccessible regions like Similipal, Kandhamal and Koraput. Sometimes, I had to walk 30 km with the help of local postmen. My foreign visitors loved to enjoy those sites. They loved to see the nature in its pristine purity at Similipal, Koraput and such other places. They loved to see the Kutia Kandhas and other aboriginals. At times, they loved to spend 21 days at a stretch to experience nature in its glory and grandeur. They felt they were spending time in Odisha which has something worth its own, conspicuous by its absence in the din and bustle of the civilised world. And it was paying for me too to act as their guide and guardian. I then began preparing write-ups about the tourist spots with active cooperation and guidance of professors of the Utkal University, who appreciated my efforts to explore Odisha tourism. Those write-ups were despatched to agents both at home and abroad. When domestic and foreign tourists came with those despatches, they visited those spots and felt as if their dreams came true. I then introduced many innovations into the profession and, unknowingly, had begun an innings in tourism. Continue reading

Efforts for archaeological tourism’s revival pledged


MINGORA: Culture activists and archaeologists here on Saturday pledged to make joint efforts for the revival and promotion of archaeological tourism in the region.

They were speaking during a seminar on Sustainable Archaeological Tourism and Role of Local Communities in Heritage Conservation at Swat Museum, Saidu Sharif.

The event was jointly organised by the Sustainable Tourism Foundation Pakistan, Archaeology Tourism Project and department of archaeology in museums with the support of Suvastu Arts and Culture Association, and Swat Archaeological Guides Association.

Civil society members, culture activists, officials of tourism department, and representatives of hotel industry, archeologists and media showed up in large numbers.

Experts say cultural, archaeological tourism a major source of foreign exchange
Aftab Rana, president of Sustainable Tourism Foundation in Pakistan, said the seminar was organised to create public awareness of sustainable archaeological tourism in Swat valley and to discuss the role of stakeholders, especially in the conservation of archaeological heritage in Swat, which was a great tourist attraction in KP.

He said sustainable tourism meant to respect local culture and avoid and damage or harm to local archaeological sites and not to spread any pollutant thing at the site.

“Majority of visitors to Swat seems to be unaware of the rich culture and archaeological heritage, so we want to promote archaeological tourism by initiating an off-season tourism and create recourses of earning to the communities living closer to the archaeological sites,” he said.

Massimo Vidale, a professor of archaeology at the University of Padova, Italy, who has been busy with excavation under the Italian archeological mission in Swat since 2000, said he was proud to be part of the Archaeological Community Tourism project with the involvement of local community in archeology in Swat. Continue reading

Outgoing Pakistani diplomat helped promote Buddhist ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka

New Indian Express

By P.K.Balachandran | Express News Service Published: 21st September 2016

COLOMBO: Pakistani diplomat Muhammad Daud Ehtisham ,who is leaving Sri Lanka after six years of dedicated service to the promotion of cultural ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, will stand out for assiduously promoting Buddhism as a bridge between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Until Ehtisham took over as Press Attache of the Pakistan High Commission six years ago, Pakistan’s relations with the island nation was primarily military in nature with Pakistan being one of the main suppliers of arms to the Sri Lankan military then fighting the Tamil Tiger terrorists.

At one stage, some efforts were made to add an economic dimension, trade and investment, to the ties. But cultural exchanges and promotion of common cultural interests were nowhere in the picture till after the end of Eelam War IV in 2009.

The restoration of peace helped the then High Commissioner, Seema Baloch, to re-discover and bring into the public domain, Pakistan’s ancient links with Buddhism, the religion of the majority in Sri Lanka. Baloch left the execution of the ambitious new project in the able hands of Daud Ehrisham, who while being Press Attache, also functioned as the principal cultural oficionado in the Pakistan High Commission.

His passion for culture and the arts stood him in good stead in projecting Pakistan as a culturally diverse and tolerant country in the face of portrayals to the contrary in the media.

An ardent collector of Buddhist art and artifacts, Ehtisham organized exhibitions and visits of scholars and monks to Buddhist sites in Taxila (ancient Gandhara) and helped bring the relics of the Buddha from Gandhara for a month long exposition in Sri Lanka which attracted more than nine million devotees. In 2011 he brought down Pakistan’s Director of Archeology Dr.Fazal Dad Kakar for a visit to Sri Lanka. Continue reading

Long Circuit: China-Pak Plotting to Hijack Buddha Legacy

Long Circ

The Sunday Herald
By Ritu Sharma
Published: 31st Jul 2016 09:41:49 AM

NEW DELHI: With China collaborating with Pakistan and Sri Lanka to create a Buddhist trail and claim the legacy keeping in view its geo-strategic interests, India has moved to form a transnational circuit for Buddhist pilgrims and tourists in cooperation with South East Asian countries. To promote itself as the cradle of Buddhism, Pakistan has also started promoting its Gandhara Buddhist Trail.

India’s master stroke to create the Buddhist trail sprawling across Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam is aimed at treasuring the heritage inherited by the country and regaining its place in history as the fountainhead of Buddhism. The initiative, which is commensurating with both India’s soft diplomacy and ‘Act East’ Policy, will be taken under the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation. The Buddhist trail, spread across the South East Asian countries, will be important for India’s identity and tourism.
“The member countries have agreed to enhance tourism cooperation and explore an early harvest ‘Buddhist trail’ as the starting point,” a Ministry of External Affairs’ official said. Myanmar has offered to coordinate the initiative. The decision was taken at the recent meeting of the Mekong-Ganga Cooperation at Vientiane. Observers say that India has been a “late mover” in claiming its rich Buddhist inheritance but is steadily “consolidating” its position.

The move is significant as China also has geo-strategic interests in the South-East Asian countries. It has proposed a Buddhist circuit under its One Belt, One Road project and has been cooperating with Pakistan and Sri Lanka on it. India’s initiative is the second such one after the Modi-led government’s announcement to conduct domestic Buddhist circuits to facilitate Buddhist pilgrims and tourists. In 2014, the government announced to make the Sarnath-Gaya-Varanasi, one among the five circuits in India, a world class one under a `500 crore project.

India’s efforts have been gathering steam after China replaced it as the co-organiser of ‘Vesak’ (Buddha Jayanti) at Gautam Buddha’s birth place in Lumbini, Nepal, earlier this year. Termed as ‘Chinese Lumbini Coup’, China’s move to appropriate Buddhist legacy was preceded by Beijing pulling out of Bihar’s Nalanda University Project. Instead, China developed a rival at Lumbini University under a $3 billion project.

The legacy of Gautam Buddha has become a bone of contention between the two neighbours for over a decade now and the “One Road, One Belt” is also going to further Chinese appropriation of the Buddhist heritage. China has also developed a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through PoK as part of the One Road, One Belt project that is also intended to fuel movement of Buddhist pilgrims. India has objected to the plan.

In April 2016, Pakistan had invited 40 Sri Lankan Buddhist monks to showcase its heritage and promote the Gandhara School of Art and Takshila Museum. Pakistan has been working towards creating an image of “a Muslim country” that has preserved world’s richest Buddhist sites and artifacts.

Buddhism was the official religion in India during the Mauryan Empire (321–185 BC), Pala Empire (750–1174 CE), as well as Kushan Empire from the first to the third centuries CE. In imperial China, it was adopted by the Sui (589–618 CE), Tang (618–907 CE) and Yuan (1271– 1368 CE) dynasties. With the arrival of Islam, Buddhism was pushed to Central Asia.