The Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has approached conservation activist Sidharth Gauri to pen details of Buddhist monuments in Haryana.
Gauri, the chief patron of The Buddhist Forum (TBF) which is a social and charitable organisation, said he had started gathering information on the rich cultural heritage of the state. “In spite of proven facts about Haryana’s connection with Lord Buddha, the Centre or the state government has not been making sincere effort to conserve Buddhist sites. Several of them are facing encroachments and deteriorating due to the non-conservation activities,” he said.
Based in Yamunanagar, the TBF is spearheading an international movement to protect and promote the neglected Buddhists sites to boost spiritual tourism in the country. Gauri, 30, has produced a documentary film ‘Dhammashhetra — The Lost Land of Buddha” on the little-known fact about the presence of Buddhist relics in the state. It was broadcast on Doordarshan.
The Tibetan parliament-in-exile and top Buddhist leaders, including the Dalai Lama, have appreciated the TBF’s effort to sensitise people on the neglect of several places once revered in the region. The TBF’s ‘Save stupas, save Buddha’ campaign has been widely appreciated.
The INTACH project will help to spread awareness among local population, particularly students about the Buddhist monuments. “We have started documenting various Buddhist sites in Haryana. Their condition is a shambles. Most of them are subjected to encroachments by villagers and the local authorities too have done little in protecting the monuments,” Pramod Kumar, the TBF vice-president, said.
Stupas at Buddha Vihar at Adi Badri and Buddha Stupa at Chaneti, both in Yamunanagar district; Kurukshetra stupa, a monastery at Kurukshetra University; a Buddha stupa at Assandh in Karnal district; and a stupa and a monastery at Agroha in Hisar are some of the places in the state associated with Buddha.
“Thousands of Buddhist followers from across the globe visit places in India associated with Lord Buddha but Haryana has never cared to cash in on the spiritual tourism. There is scope for promoting Buddhist sites as a major pilgrim destination. Hundreds of people visit Kurukshetra but authorities’ lack of initiative ensures that, they miss a chance to visit these holy places,” said Gauri.