Orissa Buddhist sites little known to Buddhist visitors

By Rakesh Ray, Kalinga Times, March 23, 2007

Bhubaneswar, India -- If the state government thinks that Orissa's three major Buddhist sites - Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri, also known as the Diamond Triangle of the State - are familiar to the Buddhist visitors from the south-east Asian countries, then it is time to think again. For, a number of visitors from Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia have expressed their sheer ignorance about the presence of such fabulous Buddhist remains in the state.

After visiting the most sought-after Buddhist sites like the Boddhagaya in Bihar, Saranath in Uttar Pradesh and Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, the Orissa's Buddhist destinations came as a pleasant surprise for Kiatfuengfoo and most of his colleagues who were here on Tuesday as part of their six-day maiden trip to Orissa.

`We did not expect to witness some enchanting relics of Lord Buddha here in Orissa. In fact, we did not have the knowledge of such sites' existence here in the state,' said Kiatfuengfoo.

Expressing solidarity with him, Chanin Romsamrarn said that Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri are in no way inferior from that of the other scintillating Buddhist sites across the world. `But it is a pity that these places are yet to reach the minds of the people living in the countries of south-east Asia,' Chanin said. These visitors' revelation cannot be ruled out if the poor inflow of tourists from the south-east Asian countries is any indication.

According to sources, nearly 700 tourists (almost all are Buddhists) had come to the State in 2003 from the South-East Asia countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore. The figure dropped drastically to nearly 680 in 2004 and 640 in 2005, sources informed.

Lack of vibrant publicity and absence of enough air connectivity to the countries, mostly inhabited by Buddhists are some amongst the reasons that have led to their ignorance, maintained the visitors.

`The state government should properly represent and market its rich destinations across the globe. Since the state has enough potential to attract scores of Buddhist tourists, it should chalk out measures to make the visitors like us aware of its potential. This will help woo more Buddhist tourists to the state,' said Tarrin Nimmanachaeminda, another visitor. This apart, the visitors urged the State Government to set up rest sheds at different Buddhist sites.

`At most of the Buddhist sites here, we found that there were no interpretation centers. There should be some scholars, who can explain to tourists the historical and archaeological importance of the place,' said Tarrin.

Another visitor, Kriang was of the opinion that good roads should be available nearby the Buddhist sites. `While you will find huge brick monasteries at one place the remains of apsidal temple, stone stupa, sculptures and images of Buddha and Bodhisattva will be found at other places of a single Buddhist site. But most of the sites do not have well-furnished roads in order to travel around the different places of a single destination,' Kriang said. The visitors also met the state tourism secretary two days back and apprised him of their suggestions in order to woo Buddhist tourists to the state in large numbers.

According to sources, nearly seven million Buddhist tourists hailing from the south-east Asian countries have been traveling around the world. In recent past, the State Government had mooted a proposal to organise Buddha festivals at major Buddhist destinations in the State. But its purpose to popularize Buddha's culture in the state failed to take off due reasons best known to the authorities.

`We have the potential to attract a lot of Buddhist tourists from around the world. If proper attention is given towards the promotion of the existing Buddhist sites in Orissa, we can expect a good gathering of Buddhist tourists here in our state,' said archaeologist and researcher, Sunil Kumar Pattnaik.
We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv