Buddhist meet clinches world heritage status cry for Udayagiri

By Ashis Senapati, TNN, Feb 4, 2013

KENDRAPADA, India -- Curtains fell on the three-day International Conference on Buddhist Heritage of Odisha at Udayagiri in Jajpur district on Sunday with the demand for including Udayagiri in the list of world heritage sites gaining momentum.

Delivering the valedictory address, governor Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare said the meet will go a long way to boost the rich Buddhist heritage of Odisha and urged tour operators to promote Udayagiri internationally. MLA Amar Prasad Satapathy highlighted the glorious contribution of Buddhist sites and pressed for including Udayagiri in the list of world heritage sites.

Impressed with the diamond triangle of Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Lalitgiri sites in Odisha, professor Anura Manatunga from Sri Lanka called upon participants to motivate tour operators from Sri Lanka to promote this circuit along with traditional Buddhist sites of UP and Bihar.

Principal secretary tourism Ashok Kumar Tripathy highlighted the state government's commitment for promotion of Buddhist tourism aggressively in the domestic and international sector. He hoped there will be a surge of tourist traffic from Southeast Asian countries once the Bhubaneswar airport is opened for the international sector.

Twenty international delegates from seven countries and 65 national delegates participated in the conference. A total of 1,547 domestic and 66 foreign tourists attended the meet as well.

Broad subjects of discussion at the event included Buddhist philosophy and schools of thought, Buddhist remains of Odisha, Buddhism for international peace and relevance of Buddhism in the 21st century, Buddhist art, iconography and architecture, apart from Buddhist vestiges and tourism.

"The topics for discussion were important and suitable for the time. For example, higher education and promotion of Buddhist practices are crucial for the religion. The event was attended by more than 110 overseas guests, 25 Indian tour operators, many international Buddhist scholars and others," said Amiya Patnaik, vice-chancellor of Utkal University of Culture, which collaborated for organizing the event.

"The event was a big success. Odisha has a rich Buddhist heritage, with several important sites associated with the life of Lord Buddha, which are of great interest for followers of Buddhism the world over. The conference was held with a view to showcasing and projecting the Buddhist heritage of the state. The Buddhist conference highlighted the relevance of Buddhism in today's age, more than 2,000 years after king Ashoka took it upon himself to spread the message of Lord Buddha," said Jiban Patnaik a senior official of Archeological Survey of India, Bhubaneswar.