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Buddhist circuit facelift for luxury stay

The Buddhist circuit in the state would get an infrastructure upgrade, including drinking water, public transport, luxurious hotels, hospitals and roadside facilities, to give tourism a shot in the arm.

The Union tourism ministry has initiated the process of developing basic infrastructure and amenities at the prime Buddhist sites — Patna, Bodhgaya, Nalanda, Rajgir and Vaishali — with an estimated outlay of Rs 450 crore under the Twelfth Five-Year Plan.

The detailed project report has to be submitted in the 2013-14 fiscal. The infrastructure development has to be completed within the Twelfth Plan Period, ending in 2017.

IL&FS Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd conducted a preliminary survey of the Buddhist, Ramayan, Jain and Sufi circuits.

The ministry recently appointed Jones Lang LaSalle India, a firm specialising in real estate services, for preparing the detailed reports and cost estimates for the proposed infrastructure development projects. The sites under the Buddhist circuit would be taken up in the first phase, said an executive of the firm. The project would be implemented in public-private-partnership mode.

An executive of Jones Lang LaSalle India, closely associated with the development project, said: “According to the preliminary assessment, the Buddhist, Ramayan, Jain and Sufi circuits have been identified in Bihar for integrated development. The Buddhist circuit has been prioritised for the proposed development in the first phase.”

On the development proposed by IL&FS, the executive added: “The infrastructure required in this circuit includes facilities at entry and exit points, accommodation, roadside amenities, public utilities, health and security. Jones Lang LaSalle India would prepare the detailed project report and the cost estimates for the corresponding projects in the 2013-14 fiscal.”

According to the survey carried out by IL&FS, basic infrastructure is lacking at the sites in the Buddhist circuit. Among the proposals outlined, Nalanda requires site development comprising drinking water supply, public convenience with changing rooms, restaurants, solid waste management, seating arrangement and signage. Budget hotels with 50 rooms are also proposed near the site of the ruins of the ancient Nalanda university.

At Rajgir, separate changing rooms near the hot spring, removal of encroachment on approach roads, organised market, security and more budget hotels are required. The proposed infrastructure development include three- and four-star category accommodation with 20 rooms, basic tourist facilities and site development near the hot spring, Ajatshatru Fort (built by Magadh king Ajatshatru in the 6th century BC), Bimbisar Jail (where Bimbisar was imprisoned by his son Ajatshatru) and Jarasand Akhara (the ground where Bhim and Jarasand fought one of the Mahabharat battles) among the other key destinations.

To meet the shortcomings of trained guides and budget hotels at Bodhgaya, a cultural centre with art gallery and a five-star hotel with 175 rooms have been proposed. Multi-specialty tertiary hospital with 300 beds and pollution-free buses near are also on the radar.

The development proposal for Vaishali includes a Buddhist themed cultural centre with art gallery, budget hotel with 50 rooms, two spiritual-cum-meditation resorts and basic tourist facilities and site development near the Asokan Pillar and Buddha Stupa.