Village Revives Asoka Link: Hindustan Times, December2, 2011
TOPRA KALAN : In a novel initiative to promote rural tourism in Topra Kalan, panchayata of about 40 villages in Yamunanagar district have decided to support a local nongovernmental organization in building Asoka Edicts Park. Yamunanagar – based The Buddhist Forum (TBF) has proposed to construct a park and a museum at Topra kalan, the village where the famous Asoka Pillar was originally erected before it was dismantled and taken to Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi by the Sultan of Delhi Ferns Shah Tughiaq in the 14th century The Topra Kalan panchayat has already donated two acres of common land in the village to build the park. A panchayat resolution was passed and this was accepted by the district administration. Villagers have constituted the Topra Kalan Kalyan Samiti, which will run the park once it is completed at an estimated cost of 2 crore.
A documentary filmmaker and TBF’s chief patron Siddhartha Gauri said the Yamunanagar district administration has assured that it would include the construction of the park under the NAREGA. “Topra Kalan” has a historical connection with Buddhism and it should be promoted to benefit the village population’ Gauri said. “We have prepared a master plan to construct replicas of all major Asoka pillars and rock edicts in India and abroad, a museum and planting a sapling of the mahabodhi tree from Sri Lanka.” Gauri, who has started getting support from Buddhist leaders, is also planning to get approach corporate houses for financial assistance and utilise the MPLAD funds to promote this rural tourism project. Gauri said several Buddhist monuments is various part of India, which were never promoted .
About 2,300 years ago, Topra was an important place located on the ancient Mathura Taxila trade route,” he said “It would considered to be a prime centre for trade and economic activities. But it is saddening that no sincere effort was made to propagate these facts” President of association of sarpanchs of Radur block in the district , Karamveer Singh said they had given a written undertaking to the administration extending their full support to the project. “We are fully satisfied with Gauri’s initiative and ready to support all possible steps to promote the project,” said Karamveer Singh. ‘We are motivating other panchayats to join us in the movement as the success of the project would open new avenues of employment in the region.” According to TBF survey, there are about 12 sites, including those in Haryana and Punjab, associated with Buddhism. Experts said Haryana had been an important place where Buddhism flourished and this is evident from the stupas in Yamunanagar, Karnal, Kurukshetra and Hissar districts.