Walk highlights scope for Buddhist pilgrimage

by Pranav Chaudhary, TNN, Dec 15, 2014

PATNA, India -- With the participation of over 1,500 people from 15 Buddhist countries, including monks and nuns, in the 13km Jethian-Rajgir heritage walk along the footsteps of Buddha on December 13, the immense untapped potential for Buddhist pilgrimage in Bihar has been underlined again.

Most of the participants said they were not aware of the existence of such a beautiful stretch. Many of them wanted this walk to be organized more frequently.

Victor Wee, chairman, Malaysian Tourism Promotional Board, who also participated in the walk, hailed the decision of Bihar government to revive this ancient Buddha trail connecting Jethian and Rajgir. Lama Lobzang, founder of International Buddhist Confederation, said the heritage walk was a step in right direction for the protection and preservation of Buddhist heritage.

"Most of the Buddhist heritage in Bihar lie in villages and walking pilgrimage along the Buddha path is a wonderful opportunity to create sustainable livelihood opportunities for the locals. Hundreds of youths from Jethian generously volunteered for the walk this year," said Deepak Anand, a Nalanda-based heritage volunteer.

Nava Nalanda Mahavihara (NNM) has been organizing heritage walks since 2010. It has successfully conducted Heritage walk to revive the legacy of Sariputta, Mahamoggallana and Mahakassapa, three prominent disciples of Buddha who hailed from the Magadh region. Bihar government has already decided to hold state functions on the days of 'parinirvana' of Sariputta and Mahamoggallana.

According to Buddhist literature, Magadh king Bimbisara received Buddha at Jethian and then both of them, along with others of the region, walked along this route through the beautiful valley to Rajgriha where Bimbisara offered Veluvana (now Venuvana) for stay to Buddha.

NNM, a deemed university under the ministry of culture, Government of India, in collaboration with International Tipitaka Chanting Council (ITCC) took the initiative of organizing this heritage walk this year to generate awareness about the rich legacy of Buddha and the lesser known but significant places associated with him.