Pradhan pleads for the inclusion of Odisha in the Buddhist circuit


It is “unfortunate” that Odisha, with its extremely rich Buddhist traditions and shrines, has not been included in the Buddhist circuit as part of the Swadesh Darshan program, the Union Education Minister said, Dharmendra Pradhan, while calling for the inclusion of the state in the program.

In a letter to Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy, Pradhan listed Odisha’s immense potential when it comes to Buddhist tourism.

Indian Buddhist heritage is of great interest to followers of Buddhism around the world and Odisha has a number of important shrines and traditions in this regard, Pradhan noted.

As part of the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, the Ministry of Tourism has sanctioned 5 projects of Rs 325.53 crore for the development of Buddhist tours in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

It is unfortunate that Odisha, even with extremely rich Buddhist traditions and shrines, was not included in the “Buddhist circuit” nor that no projects under the program were allocated to Buddhist shrines in Odisha, Pradhan said.

During the 8th century – 10th century AD during the reign of the Bhaumakara dynasty, Buddhism was considered the state religion of Odisha. In fact, it is believed that the first disciples of Lord Buddha were Tapasu and Bhallika, from the modern city of Jajpur.

Although Buddhism entered Odisha long before the Kalinga War, it gained wings in the region after 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.

The writings of the legendary Chinese traveler Hiuen Tsang only reinforce the glorious chapter of Buddhism in Odisha. Various Buddhist sites and shrines in Odisha such as Dhaulagiri, Lalitgiri, Udayagiri, Ratnagiri and Jiranng attract a large number of international tourists, especially from East and Southeast Asia and domestic tourists, especially from the North. East, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, etc. .

However, the tourist facilities at these Buddhist holy places leave a lot to be desired and lack essential tourist facilities such as connectivity, accommodation, utilities, he said.