Delhi, Dec 14, 2016: The Telangana Government has initiated a project to revive the Buddhist Culture in the state. The project is called the Buddhavanam Project. Buddhism, a contemporary religion, started from a village called Badankurti in Adilabad district in between two Godavari rivulets in the fifth century B.C. Gradually, as Lord Buddha propagated its teachings, it has seeped down in the South regions too. It spread to Kotilingala, Dhulikatta (Karimnagar), Phanigiri, Nelakondapally, Karukonda, Nagarjunakonda (Khammam & Nalgonda in TS) and then on to Andhra and Maharashtra.
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Buddhism also spread to parts of South Asia and South East Asia to countries such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Vietnam, and so on. Tourism Development Corporation chairman P. Ramulu said, “Since Telangana holds a unique position in the spread of Buddhism, the Government wants to develop these places of heritage importance not only for the sake of protection and preservation but also to attract tourists from within the country and outside so that they can explore the roots of Buddhism.”
Special Officer for Buddhavanam Project M. Lakshmaiah said to The Hindu, “Lot of excavations and studies need to be taken up at these historic sites as these have been neglected for ages. Although a lot of priceless material in the form of coins of the bygone era, terracotta figures, remnants of Stupas, figurines of Buddha, etc., there was no proper infrastructure in place for visitors to stay or study.”
The Buddhavanam Project is in process in Nagarjunakonda, the most popular Buddhist site and prominent seat of the Mahayana school of learning at Nagarjunasagar. Under the project, a Buddhist heritage theme park is being built and the 274 acres have been divided into eight segments like Buddha Charitavanam, Jataka Park, Dhyanavanam, Krishna Valley Park, Acharya Nagarjuna International Higher Buddhist Learning Centre, Buddhism in Telugu States, etc. The ‘Maha Stupa’ similar to the one at Amaravati is also being constructed with dome portions etc undergoing work, mentioned The Hindu.
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Dhayanavam work too is pending though it already has a huge 27-foot tall Buddha statue donated by the Sri Lankan Government. The Government has spent close to Rs.35 crore and another Rs.25 crore is required to give the place, the finishing touches to make it the first in the country to have many thematic segments depicting significant events in the life of Buddha and other stories. “Many tourists from the South East Asian countries are very much interested in visiting these sites if they are made aware of,” said TSTDC MD Christina Z. Chongthu.
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