Three years after chief minister Nitish Kumar viewed solar eclipse from Taregana, the state plans to develop the place as part of an astro-tourism project on the lines of its Ramayana and Sufi tourist circuits.
The project aims to preserve and develop three locations in Patna district — Taregana, Khagaul and Taregana Top — associated with 6th century AD astronomer and mathematician Aryabhatta. The places — located at a distance of approximately 30km from the capital — are considered as centres for all astronomical studies Aryabhatta conducted. The aerial distance from each other forms an equilateral triangle.
On July 22, 2009, Taregana hit the limelight, when astronomers, researchers and tourists from across the country and abroad gathered in the town to witness solar eclipse. The chief minister was among them. He showed interest in developing the three places as an astro-tourism circuit.
Science and technology principal secretary Arun Kumar Singh told The Telegraph: “The idea behind developing all the three places associated with Aryabhatta is to attract tourists and to promote astronomy-related research work.”
Each of the places would have a small museum and an observatory for people to observe celestial events. They would be well-connected. Singh said: “The department of science & technology has invited expressions of interest from reputed national/international consultancy firms specialising in planning/architecture/conservation to conduct field study and develop a comprehensive detailed project report for developing the centres.”
Khagaul would be developed as an astronomy research centre in future. A science and technology department official, preferring anonymity, said: “Our primary focus would be to develop areas associated with Aryabhatta. The museums at all three places would have pictures and literature on Aryabhatta’s life and contributions to astronomy. The observatories would have telescopes and other astronomical gadgets for people to view celestial events.”
Both Taregana and Khagaul have astronomical associations, Taregana coming from tare (stars) and Khagaul from khagshastra (astronomy). Historians from Bihar claim that Aryabhatta was born in Taregana but a few years ago, scholars from south India triggered a controversy claiming that Aryabhatta was born in Kerala and not in Bihar.