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Vikramsila revival cry gets louder at festival
- Memorandum submitted to governor

Vikramsila (Bhagalpur), Feb. 8: Another festival to celebrate the glory of the ancient university has come to an end today, but without any sign of reviving the seat of Buddhist learning.

Governor R.L. Bhatia attended the inaugural ceremony of the three-day Vikramsila Mahotsav at Antichak near Kahalgaon on February 6, raising hope among local people for possible inclusion of the ruined university in the Buddhist tourism circuit.

The panchayat head of Antichak, Nilay Sharma, said that the festival, started in 2007, was dropped last year. “The government should pay similar attentions to Vikramsila like Nalanda and initiative should be taken immediately for connecting the place with Buddhist circuit,” wrote Sharma and others in a memorandum to the governor on February 6.

The festival, organised jointly by the state youth and cultural affairs department and Bhagalpur district administration, failed to pull crowd mainly due to lack of basic infrastructure for tourists at the site. Members of the Vikramsila Nagarik Samiti, a local body to fight for the cause of this heritage site, staged a three-day dharna here to protest against the government apathy, particularly for delaying connecting it with the Buddhist circuit.

The association also staged demonstration when President Pratibha Patil cancelled her trip here last February during her two-day visit to Nalanda and other historical places on the Buddhist circuit.

Excavated remains represent the ruins of Vikramsila Mahavihar, the celebrated university founded by Pala king Dharmapala in the late 8th or early 9th century. Vikramsila, one of the largest Buddhist universities spread across the bank of the Ganga, was six times bigger than Nalanda.

“We are seriously planning to develop the site as a unique tourist hub,” said Vibak Singh, the secretary of art and culture department.

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