Odisha Excluded From Buddhist Circuit: Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan Draws Centre’s Attention

Bhubaneswar: Union Education Minister has sought inclusion of Buddhist sites in Odisha under the Centre’s Swadesh Darshan scheme.

In a letter to Union Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy, Pradhan said it is unfortunate that despite the fact that Buddhism had flourished in Odisha which have a number of shrines and stupas, the state has not been included in the Buddhist Circuit nor any projects under the scheme.

Pradhan said during the 8th-10th century under Bhaumakara dynasty rule, Buddhism was considered a state religion of Odisha. It is 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 under the patronage of Emperor Ashoka. Odisha’s most famous poet Jayadeva also described Lord Buddha as one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu in the 12th century,” Pradhan said.

He also pointed out that various Buddhist sites and shrines in Odisha such as Dhaulagiri, Lalitagiri, Udayagiri, Ratnagiri and Jiranng draw huge number of national and international tourists.

“However, the tourist facilities at these Buddhist sites lack essential facilities such as connectivity, accommodation, utilities etc,” Pradhan said.

It may be noted that under Swadesh Darshan scheme, the Tourism Ministry has sanctioned 5 projects of Rs 325.53 crore for Buddhist circuit development in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, and Andhra Pradesh.

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