Heritage conservation activist for promoting religious tourism : Hindustantimes

KARNAL: Peeved at the pathetic condition of over a dozen ancient sites associated with Lord Buddha; a heritage conservation activist has urged the state government to make special budgetary allocations for state archaeology department in 2013-14. Patron of The Buddhist Forum (TBF), a Yamunanagar based social organization, Sidhartha Gauri told Hindustan Times on Tuesday that he had prepared a detailed report on poor upkeep of Buddhist sites in Haryana and would soon handover it to the state government.

He said information under the Right to Information (RTT) revealed that only six sites were declared as protected sites by the state and the archaeological survey of India (ASI) and those too were in a deplorable condition. “Promoting religious tourism can offer employment opportunities to several village youths,” said the 37-yearold activist adding that Buddhist sites circuit could he established for the same “Since 1990, the Haryana state archaeology department has spent only Ra 81 lakh on the conservation and protection of three sites namely- Buddhist stupas at (Chaneti (Yamunanagar) and Kurukshetra and an ancient site at Sugh, (Yamunanagar). But in absence of any earmarked policy, these precious state-protected sites remain unknown even within Haryana,” he said.

The activist said all sites, including the protected ones lack facilities such as special transport, proper lighting, public convenience, special pathways for the differently-abled.

“The RTT reply says that these sites have no information centres and the local populace too was unaware of the significance these sites held,” he said. “The heritage sites, including protected ones, are subjected to illegal encroachments,” he added.
Gauri’sfilm  Dhammachhetra  The Lost Land of Buddha focuses on centuries-old Buddhist monuments such as stupas and viharas in Haryana. The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile have also lauded Gauri’s effort for high- lighting Haryana’s undiscovered rich heritage connection with Buddhism.

“While Gaya and Vaishali have been promoted worldwide, sites in Haryana are victim of lack of policy towards promoting spiritual tourism. Buddhist followers worldwide have been deprived of having a glimpse of rich sites in Haryana,” he said. Gauri demanded  provision of special funds for the state archaeology department to protect Buddhist sites at Aherwan (Palwal), Sandhay (Yamunanagar) and initiate investigations to explore similar sites at Radaur,  Falgu and other Hisar district. The Buddhist Forum is credited with encouraging panchadyat of Topra Kalan, Yamunanagar, to donate land for Asoka Edicts Park.

In November 2011, TBF patron Sidhartha Gauri was the only Indian invited to deliver a talk on ‘Preservation and Development of Buddhist at the Global Buddhist Congregation (GBC).

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