State seeks Japan help for Buddhist circuit

The Gujarat Tourism department is hopeful to get Janpan's assistance in developing the much touted "Buddhist circuit" in the state.

Beginning with Devnimori, a Buddhist archaeological site located in Sabarkantha, the tourism department has sought the help of the Japanese government to create an infrastructure worth Rs 500 crore around it. Excavated in 1960, Devnimori houses a monastic centre and a mahastupa containing the ashes of Buddha built by Emperor Ashoka in the 4th century.

"It is a very ambitious project for which we have sought to collaborate with the Japanese government who are already helping Bihar for their Buddhist circuit. We have written to Japan External Trade Organisation, last fortnight to collaborate with us. We are hopeful to get both funding and ideas from Japan as Devnimori is among the seven locations in India that has the relics of Lord Buddha," said Vipul Mittra, principal secretary of state tourism and civil aviation.

He further said a four-member delegation from Japan recently concluded a visit to the Buddhist archaeological spots based in Gujarat like Devnimori, Siddhpur, Haskol Darwaja excavation sites in Vadnagar and Uparkot caves in Junagadh district.

Mittra was speaking on the sidelines of an annual three-day Travel & Tourism Fair that began on Friday in Ahmedabad.

Along with the stupas, the excavations also yielded relics like a casket containing Buddha's ashes and 17 terracotta statues of Buddha which are now housed in the Department of Archaeology at the Maharaja Sayajirao University in Vadodara.

"The government is also planning to construct a temple along with an information centre for the travellers. As we are already reconstructing Shyamlaji temple with an investment of Rs 50 crore, we want to add Devnimori which is just 5 kms from it so that a tourist can spend a day there. Our main target is tourists from south-east Asian countries and we plan to create infrastructure to boost the same," said Kirti Thakker, manager of Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited.

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