Private Construction Banned At Buddhist Site

News Post India, August 13, 2007

Sirpur, India -- The Chhattisgarh government Monday decided to ban private construction at the famous Buddhist site of Sirpur. Permission for construction will only be given in rare cases as the government plans to develop it as a world heritage site.

'I have told Mahasamund district collector that encroachments in Sirpur village should be razed. Private construction will only be allowed in rare cases with prior permission as the findings of excavations are establishing that Sirpur was one of the biggest Buddhist centres of knowledge in the world,' State Tourism and Culture Minister Brijmohan Agrawal told IANS.

Sirpur, located about 70 km east of capital Raipur in Mahasamund district, was a famed centre for Buddhist studies between the sixth and tenth centuries. According to Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang, who visited the village in the seventh century, Sirpur had an Ashoka stupa, at least 100 monasteries and 150 temples.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is currently carrying out one of the biggest excavation works of central India at Sirpur and the state government is lobbying for getting world heritage status for the site.

'We have set up a Sirpur Development Project that is in final stage of approving development works worth millions of rupees, including developing a museum where all the findings coming up during excavations will be kept preserved,' Agrawal said.