Buddhagaya restoration resumes

by Upali Rupasinghe, Lanka Daily News, Nov 15, 2005

New Delhi, India -- The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) after ending a 4-year long dispute with the Buddhagaya Temple Management Committee (BTMC) has resumed restoration work in the Sri Maha Bodhi Temple at Buddhagaya. An expert committee headed by former ASI, Director General Dr. J.P. Joshi is handling the IR 5.6 million restoration project funded by the State Government of Bihar and the BMTC.

The Buddhagaya Temple was declared a World Heritage Site in 2003 by the UNESCO. In 2001, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the BMTC and the ASI for high-tech restoration work, but even after an iron structure is erected around the outer-walls of the Temple and preliminary work started, the BMTC expressed dissatisfaction over the manner it was handled by an untrained work force.

The dispute could not be settled as the both sides were adamant. In the meantime several Buddhist organisations petitioned the Central Government about the damage causing to the Buddhagaya Temple by the iron structure erected by the ASI. Accordingly the Centre, intervened and appointed an expert committee to look into the restoration work.

Earlier, a team of UNESCO experts after an extensive survey terminated the repairing work of the Buddhagaya a Temple Complex as the BMTC has not followed the guidelines set by its experts. Buddhagaya Temple erected at the very spot where the Prince Siddhartha attained Enlightenment is one of the four Sacred Sites related with the life of the Buddha. It was first built by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C.