The Government is organising a Buddhist Circuit Train Familiarisation Tour and Conference from 4 to 8 October to tap into the potential of Buddhist tourism.
The tour will cover the visit of prominent Buddhist sites and conferences at Bodhgaya and Varanasi. The event is likely to be attended by around 125 delegates including tour operators, hoteliers, media and officials of the Ministry of Tourism and state governments.
Apart from this, around 100 local tour operators and other stakeholders of tourism and hospitality sector would be attending the event at Bodhgaya and Varanasi to discuss the key issues with regard to the development and promotion of tourism in the circuit.
India has a rich ancient Buddhist Heritage with several important sites associated with the life of Lord Buddha.
According to a Tourism Ministry release, Buddhist tourism in India as a tourism product has a tremendous potential.
The Indian Buddhist heritage is of great interest to the followers of Buddhism all over the world.
Ministry of Tourism has leverage these factors to showcase India as ‘The Land of Buddha’, the ministry said.
Buddhism originated in ancient India more than 2500 years ago and spread through much of Asia.
With close to 500 million followers, Buddhists represent 7 per cent of the world’s total population. The holy Buddhist sites follow Buddha’s life cycle with the most important ones being Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini (Nepal), Bodh Gaya where he attained enlightenment, Sarnath where Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightenment, Kushinagar which Buddha chose for his final departure or Mahaparinirvana, Nalanda which was one of the world’s first residential universities and an epicentre for learning, Rajgir where Buddha spent several months meditating and preaching at Gridhra Kuta (Hill of the Vultures), Sravasti where he taught many of his Suttas (sermons), and Vaishali where Buddha delivered his last sermon, to name a few, the ministry said.
Under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme, five projects worth Rs 325.53 crore have been sanctioned for Buddhist circuit development in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh and those sanctioned projects are under different stages of implementation, it added.
While works of Rs 44.19 crore on three projects have been sanctioned under PRASHAD Scheme; in Varanasi, two projects including a sound and light show at Dhamek Stupa and a Buddha Theme Park, Sarnath, worth costing Rs 9.5 crore for the development of Buddhist structures have been completed, the ministry said.
In addition to the development of tourism related infrastructure under the various schemes of the Ministry of Tourism, emphasis is also being put on promoting the various Buddhist Sites within India and overseas markets, it added.
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