Indian government doesn’t smile at these Buddhist sites

Express News Service, June 16 2008

KENDRAPARA, India -- For an archaeological hotspot, Langudi wears the tag of obscurity. Located in Dharmasala tehsil 40 km from here, it’s a sleepy hamlet with a sparse population.

But things could change. Discovery of a Buddhist Stupa along with many images of different postures of Lord Buddha have raised hopes. Langudi hit the headlines eight years ago. However, few tourists have since ventured into this remote hamlet.

Arun Nayak, secretary of Orissa Tourism Guide Association (OTGA), feels the Buddhist site in Langudi hill can turn Langudi into a full-fledged tourist destination.

Many newly discovered Buddhist sites in Dharmasala areas was conclusive proof of the existence of Buddhist culture for centuries. But the State Government is doing little to develop all the new Buddhist sites by constructing roads and other facilities essential to promote tourism.

The discovery of some Buddhist caves at Neulipur village and Langudi Hill are also potential tourist attractions.

The caves in the Langudi Hill face south and are cut out of Khondalite stones. While most of the caves discovered at Neulpur are rectangular, a few are in square shape. Some Buddhist caves were also discovered at Bajragiri, Kaema, Deuli, Sarapur and Paikrapur. On the other hand, the Orissan Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies has been unearthing Buddhist sites in Kaima, Deuli, Tarapur and Radhanagar for long. An ancient fort was unearthed three years back in Radhanagar. The existence of an ancient fortress at Radhanagar that resembled the one at Sisupalagarh near Bhubaneswar will also be a major attraction for the tourists, said Nayak.

Nayak, however, rued that lack of proper accommodation has hampered the development of these tourist places. The State’s Tourism Department has not mentioned the newly discovered Buddhist sites in its website and booklets for which many tourists are completely ignorant about important Buddhist sites.

‘‘We have umpteen times urged the officials of tourism department to highlight the tourism potential of Buddhist sites in the State but the demands have fallen on deaf ears,’’ added Nayak.