Five nation Buddhist team to visit Bihar

by Pranava K Chaudhary, Times of India, Aug 25, 2007

PATNA, India -- A 120-strong contingent, comprising ministers, bureaucrats, tour and travel operators and mediapersons, from five Buddhist nations will arrive here on September 5 on a five-day visit to the state under a Buddhist promotion mission — “Mekong to Ganga”.

The five Buddhist nations are Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. The team members will leave for Varanasi on September 9 on a three-day visit.

The Bihar government on Friday reviewed its preparedness in this regard under the chairmanship of chief secretary A K Chaudhary.

The team, which is being coordinated by the ministry of external affairs, will visit Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Patna and Vaishali by road during its five-day stay in Bihar.

The state government has decided to organise cultural programmes in the honour of the visiting delegation during its stay in Patna and Bodh Gaya.

The Mekong is regarded as the 10th longest river in the world. It originates from the Tibetan plateau and runs through the China’s Yunnan province, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Bihar tourism secretary Anjani K Singh told TOI: “The Buddhist promotion mission is named after two major rivers of the world — Mekong and Ganga. The team members will visit all the Buddhist-related sites in Bihar. We hope the mission will strengthen our cultural ties.”

Singh, who is also the state culture secretary, said that the Bihar government has made adequate security arrangements for the visiting guests. “We will distribute free-of-cost copies of promos and attractive brochures among the visiting delegation and travel agents,” said an official.

The brochures give information about the various tourist sites of the state and tariffs of the Bihar State Tourism Corporation hotels and buses.

Earlier this year, a 123-member Buddhist delegation from China had also visited Bihar on a goodwill mission under the cultural exchange programme of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. A large number of Chinese monks of the high order comprised the team.

Last year, a 64-member Chinese delegation visited Bihar to explore the “forbidden” route of the legendary journey of famous Chinese traveller Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) from Xian to Nalanda by road to commemorate the year of the Indo-Chinese Friendship, 2006.