Hyderabad: Buddhist sites of importance in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh continue to remain unknown to much of the world, thanks to lack of concerted efforts by the Tourism department before and after bifurcation of the state.
There are more than 60 Buddhist sites in both states as Buddhism flourished in the region approximately from 3rd Century BC to nearly 4th Century AD.
However, a random search on the Internet for the foremost Buddhist sites to visit in India does not turn up any from either of the Telugu states.
Buddhist sites from Bihar or Uttar Pradesh mostly figure in such lists even though the archaeological, historic or cultural significance of sites in AP or Telangana are no less significant.
Officials of the archaeology departments of both states are miffed at the tourism development corporations of their respective states for not ensuring proper connectivity to the Buddhist sites, providing poor publicity and for lack of amenities outside the sites.
An official from AP said, “It was found that in UK, at a museum where the Buddhist sculptures excavated from Amaravati are kept, the entire gallery was air conditioned so that the sculptures do not get damaged. Here they are kept without any proper maintenance or skilled manpower to look after them due to dearth of funds. At many sites all that one can get to eat is roadside food. How are tourists expected to come to such places, especially foreign tourists?”
Anjaneya Reddy, former head of AP Tourism Development Corporation said, “The Buddhist sites of Bihar are those associated with the Buddha, the place where he attained enlightenment and preached and finally attained Nirvana. Our sites came to prominence much later. We do have places associated with sages like Nagarjuna, Buddhaghosha, Aryadeva, Dignath etc. However, none of these places are developed enough to attract tourists. When tourists go there, we do not have much to show. Keeping this in mind, the APTDC of undivided AP had identified 22 sites for development. While we have made a beginning, we have a lot more to do. We should develop these places meaningfully with interpretation centres, restored monuments etc. and make them worthy of visit. In short, our sites are yet to be conserved, restored and developed and made tourist-friendly.”