New Buddhist sites raise tourism hope

Newindpress, July 31 2005

KENDRAPARA, India -- For an archaeological hotspot, Langudi wears the tag of obscurity. Located in Dharmasala tehsil, 40 km from here, it is a sleepy hamlet with sparse population. But things are set to change, thanks to the discovery of a Buddhist stupa along with several different images of Lord Buddha.

Langudi hill hit the headlines eight years ago when several senior historians and archaeologists discovered an inscription that confirmed its identity as ?Puspagiri?, which according to famous Chinese traveller Huein T?sang is a magnificent stupa emitting brilliant light due to its sacredness.

However, very few tourists have since ventured into this remote hamlet for a view of the artefacts.

Archaeologists feel that the Buddhist site can turn Langudi into a full-fledged tourist destination. Debendra Pradhan, a senior archaeologist and secretary of Orissan Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies (OIMSEAS) said the State Government has already begun developing the site by constructing roads and other facilities essential to promote tourism.

Two months back, the Centre sought about Rs 500 crore from Japan Government to promote the Buddhist sites in the State, said Pradhan. The discovery of some Buddhist caves at Neulipur village and Langudi can also turn out to be tourist hotspots.

OIMSEAS has been unearthing Buddhist sites in Kaima, Deuli, Tarapur and Radhanagar since last year. An ancient fort was recently unearthed at Radhanagar, which resembles the one at Sisupalgarh near Bhubaneswar, said Pradhan.

The fortress, which served as a military camp, was razed during King Ashok?s Kalinga invasion. Some scholars claim to have identified Dantapur, then capital of Kalinga at Radhanagar. Terming these areas as treasure-trove of history that are just waiting to be discovered, Pradhan said help of Epigraphical Society of India in Mysore has been sought to decipher the inscriptions carved on some images and stones unearthed by OIMSEAS.