The middle path to boost Gujarat tourism

Times of India, Apr 7, 2010

GANDHINAGAR, India -- The recent Dalai Lama visit has given a new impetus to Gujarat branding itself as the latest Buddhist pilgrimage destination. The state government has not only allocated funds for development of the sites associated with Buddhism but is also preparing a comprehensive plan for development of these sites.

The biggest draw here seems to be the stone casket containing the mortal remains of Buddha, which were on display for the first time at the international Buddhist conference at Vadodara in last December. These remains were excavated from Dev ni Mori Buddhist stupas in Shamlaji, some 50 years back.

The tourism department officials said that state tourism department has sent proposals to develop infrastructure and connectivity to 12 such sites, for approval to the central government under the Buddhist tourist programme of the Union tourism department.

The state government has allocated around Rs 20 crore for the development of Buddhist sites in north Gujarat and Saurashtra in 2010-11. Dev ni mori, Vadnagar and Taranga hills will be developed in north Gujarat, while Rs 1.23 crore has been sanctioned for developing Buddhist caves in Talaja Bhavnagar, after the Dalai Lama visit.

State minister of tourism, Jay Narayan Vyas, had said in the recent Assembly session that apart from creating infrastructure facilities, Centre for Environment and Planning & Technology (Cept) has been asked to prepare a development plan for Talaja caves.

The excavations of Buddhist sites in recent years in Vadnagar, Sana caves, Khambalida, Siyot caves, Junagadh city Khapra Kodia monastery and Talaja caves will be documented along with Dev Ni Mori site near river Meshvo, said the officials.