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Global push for Buddhist sites

Bhubaneswar/Jajpur, Jan. 29: The tourism and culture department is planning to highlight Buddhist heritage centres of the region through an international conference.

The three-day conference starts on February 1 and will include discussions on Buddhist studies relating to sites, excavations and findings in Odisha.

It will be organised at Udayagiri in Jajpur district and will be attended by 20 Buddhist scholars from abroad and 75 from within the country. Nearly 10 tour operators from South East Asian nations are also likely to participate.

“Odisha has 324 Buddhist sites and 108 have remains of Buddhist establishments in the form of stupas, chaityas or monastic complexes. But at the national and international level, the state is not getting due prominence. We want to change this,’’ said Amiya Kumar Patnaik, vice-chancellor of the Culture University.

Earlier, such conferences were organised in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar and foreign countries like USA and Australia.

Principal secretary, tourism and culture department, Ashok Kumar Tripathy, said: “There was a time when Buddhism was a way of life in ancient Kalinga. We want to revive the lost tradition and attract scholars and tourists to the land of Buddha.’’

“We have made special arrangements at several bungalows, guest houses, resorts and panthanivas,” said Sunil Kumar Patnaik, secretary, Odisha Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies.

“Jajpur was chosen to host the conference because of its rich Buddhist treasure trove,” said collector Anil Kumar Samal.