BHUBANESWAR: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has sought the intervention of his cabinet colleague, Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy to include Odisha in the proposed Buddhist Circuit under the Centre’s Swadesh Darshan scheme.
The Union Tourism Ministry has sanctioned five projects worth over Rs 325 crore for developing the Buddhist Circuit in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. In a letter to Reddy, Pradhan said, “It is unfortunate that Odisha, with extremely rich Buddhist tradition and shrines, has not been included in the Buddhist Circuit nor any projects under the scheme allocated to Buddhist shrines in Odisha.”
Making a strong case for the State’s glorious Buddhist lineage, Pradhan said from 8th to 10th century under the Bhaumakara dynasty, Buddhism was considered the State religion of Odisha. Listing out other eloquent footprints of Buddhism in the State, Pradhan said two of Lord Buddha’s first disciples- Tapasu and Ballika hailed from Jajpur in Odisha.
Moreover, emperor Ashoka had patronised the spread of Buddhism both in the State and beyond. “The influence of Buddhism can be found in the socio-cultural life of the people of Odisha and the rich depository of history is reflected in the Buddhist monuments of the State,” the letter said.
He further said Buddhist sites and shrines like Dhaulagiri, Lalitgiri, Udaygiri, Ratnagiri and Jiranng continue to attract a huge number of international tourists from east and south-east Asia. “The tourist facilities at these Buddhist holy places leave much to be desired. Keeping in mind the massive potential for development of tourism at these places and increasing tourist footfalls to the State thereby improving the livelihood of Odia people, I seek your personal intervention for inclusion of Odisha in the proposed Buddhist circuit under the Swadesh Darshan scheme,” Pradhan said.