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65-foot Ashoka Pillar, cave park coming up in Telangana’s Buddhavanam to woo tourists

Asia's largest Buddhist tourism centre, Buddhavanam in Telangana will now have a Ashoka Pillar, cave-theme park among several other new attractions (Pic. Courtesy www.buddhavanam.com)

Asia’s largest Buddhist tourism centre, Buddhavanam, which was inaugurated on May 14 in Telangana is all set to have several more attractions added to it, to make it a world-class stand-alone tourist destination.

Among these new attractions is a 65-foot-long Ashoka Pillar, a cave-themed park that will portray the history of Buddhism spanning its 2,500 years history, construction of a viewpoint which will provide visitors a panoramic view of the Krishna River and its surroundings and also three helipads to facilitate visits by VIPs.

These proposals came forth during the Ashadha Purnima-Dharma Chakra Day celebrations organised by the Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation recently at Buddhavanam.

Mallepali Laxmaiah, Special Officer at Buddhavanam, suggested setting up of a post-graduate centre under the Mahatma Gandhi University in the Nalgonda district. This was seconded by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Gopal Reddy. The Centre will offer study programmes on Buddhism, Pali, History, Tourism and English Literature to students.

The Buddhavanam park is being embellished in tune with India’s attempt to revive Buddhism, to deepen its anchorage as a civilizational state. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken the intitiative to  thread famous Buddhist sites in India and Nepal including Lumbini, Boddhgaya and Kushingar as part of an international Buddhist circuit.

The Buddhavanam park also expands Telengana’s remarkably rich Buddhist footprint.

In fact, recent archaeological excavations which found the 6th Century Buddhist Vajrayana Temple at Devunigutta village has an  architectural style that resembles Angkor wat of Cambodia.

Another place is Nandikonda, a small village on the banks of Krishna river where remnants of strong Buddhist culture have been found, including many pillared halls and monasteries.

To provide an international and comprehensive outlook to Buddhavanam, Sandeep Kumar Sultania, Principal Secretary (Tourism), revealed that the Government had plans to add many monasteries from other parts of the world like Bali, Mongolia, Indonesia and Bhutan among others are Buddhavanam.

Further the construction of a Bouddha Vihara is also planned which will be designed on the lines of the architectural style of the ancient period to provide the tourists a feel of the ambience of those times. By decorating the place with tapestries and providing Satvik food the visitors can have an immersive experience.

Buddhavanam has been developed on 274 acres at Nagarjunasagar on the banks of Krishna river, at a cost of Rs.100 crore.

Other prominent attractions at Buddhavanam include a 21-metre high hollow Maha Stupa located at the centre of the project site portraying Lord Buddha’s life; 40 Jataka sculptures; replicas of 13 prominent Buddhist stupas located in India and other countries; Stupa Park; Bodhisattva Park; Meditation Park among others.

Also read: Buddhavanam, Asia’s largest Buddhist tourism centre to open in Telangana on May 14