Sunday November 19, 2017

Sarnath to promote green mode of transportation

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Sarnath, which attracts thousands of tourists, will now have its first ever, 1800 metres long and 2.50 metres wide, cycle track, expected to be developed between Ashapur Crossing and Sarnath Museum. This project is a part of the UP government’s ‘Clean UP-Green UP’ programme wherein to promote a healthy mode of transport cycle tracks will be built in cities all across the state.

As reported by TOI, the regional tourism officials believe that development of cycle tracks will not only promote green mode of transport, sustainable living, health and environmental sensitivity but will also give an augment to tourism as the tourists will have an opportunity to enjoy beauty and tranquility of the city.

Ravindra Mishra, regional tourist officer told TOI, “Most of the tourists, domestic as well as foreigners, visit Sarnath, one of the most revered place for Buddhists and also, one of the key tourism sites. The consideration of making a cycle track from Ashapur Crossing to Sarnath Museum route is great as a lot of tourists take this route”.

“The tender process has already started and work of the pilot project is also expected to commence in the next two weeks. At present, only one cycle track will be developed while the work of identification of other places across the city is also underway,” VDA secretary, MP Singh told TOI.

As per the report, a team of VDA staff will prepare a ‘detailed project report’ (DPR) and will survey areas across the city, where the scheme will help to reduce maximum congestion.

“Since the city has got several serpentine lanes so construction of cycle lanes on them is not possible. After surveys, roads will be identified where this scheme can be easily implemented,” said Singh.

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Stupa Architecture: Tracing Hindu-Buddhist Influence and Indo-Cambodian Relations

South East Asian regions like Indonesia, Cambodia, Malay Peninsula etc. came to be under the influence of the Indian culture from as early as the 3rd century BC

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Bayon Temple, Cambodia. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons
  • Stupas form an integral and inseparable part of Buddhist architecture and culture
  • South East Asian regions like Indonesia, Cambodia, Malay Peninsula etc. came to be under the influence of the Indian culture from as early as 3rd century BC
  • The most significant Indianized state that existed was Funan, which is now a part of Cambodia

Part of Dhamek Stupa of Sarnath. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons
Part of Dhamek Stupa of Sarnath. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons

In Sanskrit, stupa means “heap”. Stupas form an integral and inseparable part of Buddhist architecture and culture. It stands as the burial ground or a place to hold religious objects and artefacts. But, what is interesting is that it has a connection to Hinduism as well.

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South East Asian regions like Indonesia, Cambodia, Malay Peninsula etc. came to be under the influence of the Indian culture from as early as the 3rd century BC. Broadly speaking, it was the time during which there was an amalgamation of Buddhist and Indian culture. In fact, till  the 15th Century AD, a lot of the parts of South East Asia were ruled by Indians. It is remarkable how India was able to approach and consolidate the branches of their civilisation is such a way without military conquest. There is a debate regarding the architectural influences that the South East Asian countries drew from India but not much has been talked about how in the later period, there were instances of Indian stupas being inspired from that of the South-East Asia. The votive Stupas of Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh are examples of such an impact, mentioned Ancient Origins Website.

Ruins of Sarnath Temple in Uttar Pradesh, India. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons
Ruins of Sarnath Temple in Uttar Pradesh, India. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons

Sarnath is located near the confluence of Gomati as well as Ganges in Uttar Pradesh. The structures of the stupa are mostly built with bricks, mud, clay, stone and dry masonry. According to researchers, stupas are also built of terracotta and other materials but none of that can be found in this particular stupa at Sarnath.

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Actually, at that time, a lot of Indians travelled to these places in Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia and this resulted in a cultural influence, mentioned the Ancient Origins Website. That was how both Hinduism and Buddhism was successfully spreading from India to these parts of the world- via traders, scholars and rulers, who were travelling through sea routes to these remote places. Over the time, strong relations were established between India and the South East Asia.

A statue from the walls of Angkor Thom, Cambodia. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons
A statue from the walls of Angkor Thom, Cambodia. Image Source : Wikimedia Commons

The most significant Indianized state that existed was Funan, which is now a part of Cambodia. Legend has it that, the ties between Indians and the Khmer or the native people of the land, was strengthened when an Indian Brahmin’s daughter married the local chief. Funan carried on trade with India and had series of kings who attempted to repress the rising tide of Buddhism and patronised Hinduism. Thus, the Indo-Cambodian relationship was in existence since then. Not only trade relations or personal relations but cultural ties were also strong between these two. The instances of Hindu and Buddhist influences can be found in the architectural manifestations of Angkor Watt Temple, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Baphuon temples in Cambodia.

Prepared by Atreyee Sengupta of NewsGram.

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Gachchhami Parikrama: UP government plans 15 km trail along Buddha’s final odyssey

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

The department of state tourism in Uttar Pradesh has proposed to develop a 15 km trail, known as Gachchhami Parikrama, which would track Gautam Buddha’s last journey from Pawanagar to Kushinagar. This would provide Buddhist followers an opportunity to visit all the places mentioned in the ‘Mahaparinirvanasutta,’ an account of Gautam Buddha’s journey from Vaishali to Kushinara.

Lord Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana (salvation) in 487 BC on a bed of leaves under the Sal tree in Kushinagar.  According to the scriptures, he started his journey from Vaishali where he announced that it was his final odyssey. Before leaving for Kushinagar, he left his ‘Bhiksha-Patra’ in the city of Vaishali.

On his way, he once halted at Pawanagar, currently known as Fazilnagar. It is believed that Pawanagar is the place where he consumed a meal comprising of meat, after which he was attacked by a severe sickness with bloody diarrhea and sharp and deadly pain. Still, the Enlightened One kept on moving further and crossed a river called Kukutha to reach his final destination Kushinara.

Kushinagar is a revered place in Buddhist scriptures. However, it had remained neglected over a long period of time, until in the 19th century when a few British archaeologists discovered the Mahaparinirvana Temple after snipping the dense foliage around the place.

The Mahiparinirvana Temple is known for its peaceful atmosphere and the excavated statue of Buddha lying in the Parinirvana posture with his head turned to the right and feet swollen from the long travel. The 5th century AD statue was originally made of sandstone, but has turned golden over the years due to the gold foil offered by the devotees.

This proposal to initiate a walk from Pawanagar to Kushinagar would enhance the tourism of the state. The walk is supposed to be based on the lines of the famous walk of Galicia, Spain, which leads to Santiago de Compostela, home for the famous pilgrimage route to St. James.

The officials associated with the project have reported that the World Bank is aiding the project technically and financially. Amrit Abhijhat, Director General of UP Tourism told an English newspaper, “The path is highly significant for Buddha’s devotees especially the ones who come from abroad. More than eight lakh tourists visit Kushinagar every year including 10 per cent foreigners.” He informed that the tourist infrastructure would be raised in all along the route, which will create job opportunities for the locals.

 

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Banaras: A land that has conserved the essence Hinduism for over 3000 years

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By Rituparna Chakrobarty

Varanasi has been a famous centre of Hindu religion for at least three thousand years. In the ancient Hindu literature also Varanasi has invariably been dealt with as the Dharma-Kshetra which means the religious area.

It is not for nothing that Varanasi has been called India in miniature. A bird’s-eye-view of Varanasi as a center of religion and monastic aspect reveals that practically all religious sects have their branches in this city. From Buddhism to Islam, all the religions have been able to exist here in harmony,

It may not be possible to describe in detail the various centers and monastical establishments connected to various communities and sects. But a general survey reveals that practically all ancient and modern persuasions have their representation in this holy city.

Why Varanasi has so much influence on people?

Most people from across the globe come to visit the Kashi Vishawnath temple. According to Hindu mythology out of 12 Shivlingam disseminated one of its linga is situated here in Vishawnath.

According to the Kashi khand- the so called directory of Kashi, there are 811 temples and 288 tirthas in Varanasi. Out of it 513 are Shiva lingas, 49 Vishnu temples, 75 temples of Devis and 71 idols of Lord Ganesha and rest consists of Surya, Bhairava, Yoginis and many others.

It is believed that the city was devotee of Lord Vishnu as it was ruled by the emperor Adi Keshav who belongs to Vaishnva sect and there was no existence of Lord Shiva. But with due change in time Shiva liked the place and he invited all the other Hindu gods-goddesses to have a stay at Kashi.

In puranas the four names used to  describe the religious state viz: Kashi, Varanasi, Avimukta and Antargriha.

Religious and monastic Institutions

Sarnath

Beyond Hinduism it adds more religious fervour to followers of Buddhism and Jainism.

Buddha had met the five Brahmans whom he preached his sermon known in Buddhist phraseology as Dharama-chakara-Pravartana, after attaining Nirvana here in Sarnath.  Ashoka later built a Stupa at this place which is known as Chaukhandi Stupa.

The countries like Tibet, Myanmmar, Sri lanka, Thailand and Japan have built their own monasteries in the place.

People from various countries come to visit the city  to rejuvenate their lives as they gain mental peace and sanity from visiting this religious place. Also they found themselves closer to the god as it is believed that this land is pathway to the heaven.