Odd timings keep monks away from Buddha park - Much-hyped meditation ground fails to attract devotees as it remains open only for two hours

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By AAROHI KESHAV
  • Published 16.02.11
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Patna, Feb. 15: The ambitious Buddha Memorial Park was supposed to be a sanctuary for the monks to meditate but it has become just another hangout point for the common people in the city.

Eight months after Buddhist spiritual leader Dalai Lama inaugurated the park — constructed at the cost of Rs 125 crore, over an area of 22 acres in the heart of the city — it has failed to attract monks and devotees. Reason: the park is open for just two hours a day — from 3pm to 5pm.

Most devotees believe such a time is not conducive for meditation. A source said fixing two hours a day, that too in the afternoon for meditation is not practical. “Park sirf do ghante ke liye khula rehta hain. Zyada log mediation ke liye nahin aate (The park is only open for two hours. Not too many people come here to meditate),” said Satyendra Sharma, a security guard at the park.

On being asked about the strange timings of the park, Sharma said: “It is still under construction. A few things are left to be done. Thus, we are opening it for only two hours now.” As a result, regular visitors are college students, couples or senior citizens, who have very little idea about the original purpose of the park, that was supposed to attract foreign tourists. For most of them it is a recreational facility. “It is more of a fun park for us, where my friends and I hang out and have fun,” said Manish Kumar, a college student. Preeti Chaudhury, another regular visitor to the park, said: “It is just another park where people can spend some time in the greens.”

A source said the reason why most visitors are ignorant about the motive behind establishing such a park is that there is no information about the artefacts on display in the park. Neither are there any employees to guide them around. The attractions of the park — the giant statue of Gautam Buddha and a large meditation hall, where 1,000 devotees can meditate together — remain empty. “I have never seen any monk or devotee meditating here, though I come here regularly as it is close to my office,” Chaudhary added.

Officials of the tourism department, that is responsible for the upkeep of the park, said it was not complete but refused to make any commitment about when it would be completed. “Construction work is still going on. When it is complete, the park will be open for longer hours,” said Vijendra Singh, the tourism department public relations officer.