Newdelhi:17/10/21: Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has sought the personal intervention of Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy for inclusion of Odisha in Buddhist Circuit declared under the Swadesh Darshan scheme.
Pradhan, in a letter to Reddy, said: “It is unfortunate that Odisha, even with extremely rich Buddhist traditions and shrines, has not been included in the “Buddhist Circuit” nor any projects under the Scheme has been allocated to Buddhist Shrines in Odisha.”
Under Swadesh Darshan Scheme, Tourism Ministry sanctioned 5 projects of Rs 325.53 crore for Buddhist circuit development in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh.
During the 8th Century – 10th Century AD under Bhaumakara dynasty rule, Buddhism was considered a state religion of Odisha, informed the Minister.
In fact, it’s believed that the first disciples of Lord Buddha were Tapasu and Bhallika who hailed from the modern-day city of Jajpur, he added.
“Though Buddhism entered Odisha long before the Kalinga War it took wings in the region after the under the patronage of Emperor Ashoka. Odisha’s most famous poet Jayadeva went on to describe Lord Buddha as one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu in the 12th century AD,” said Pradhan.
The writings of fabled Chinese Traveler Hiuen T’sang just reinforce the glorious chapter of Buddhism in Odisha. The influence of Buddhism can be found in the socio-cultural life of the people of Odisha and rich depository of history is reflected in the Buddhist monuments of the state.
Various Buddhist sites and shrines in Odisha such as Dhaulagiri, Lalitagiri, Udayagiri, Ratnagiri and Jiranng draw huge number of international tourists, especially from East and South-east Asia and national tourists, especially from North-east, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh etc.
“However, the tourist facilities at these Buddhist holy places leaves much to be desired and lacking in essential tourist facilities such as connectivity, accommodation, utilities etc,” the Minister further added.