News / Asia

    India Taps Potential of Rich Buddhist Heritage

    Indian folk artists from the eastern Indian state of Orissa perform during the three-day long Travel and Tourism Fair in Kolkata, July 13, 2012.
    Indian folk artists from the eastern Indian state of Orissa perform during the three-day long Travel and Tourism Fair in Kolkata, July 13, 2012.
    Anjana Pasricha
    India is tapping the potential of its rich Buddhist heritage by wooing more tourists from East and South East Asian countries. Buddhism originated in India but went on to gain more popularity in other Asian countries.

    From a rail station in New Delhi the luxury train, the Mahaparinirvan Express, begins its winding, eight-day journey through three Indian states -- Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa.
     
    The passengers on board include a group of tourists from Thailand, who are greeted with garlands and music. At daytime, the train stops at some of Buddhism’s most sacred sites such as Bodh Gaya where Buddha obtained enlightenment, Sarnath, where he gave his first sermon, Varanasi, where he preached and Kusinagar, where he died.  
     
    The train is sometimes delayed by dense winter fog, but the visitors from Thailand say they are satisfied with their spiritual encounter.

    Buddha began preaching Buddhism in India more than 2,500 years ago. As a result, some of Buddhism’s most sacred sites - places where he lived and preached are located in India -- although the religion went on became more popular elsewhere in Asia.
     
    Many of these holy spots lie in India’s poorest states which were not easy to access for decades. As a result only the most committed religious tourists made the effort to reach the sites, resulting in relatively few foreign visitors.  
     
    But in recent years, India has been trying to attract more tourists from countries such with sizeable Buddhist populations such as Japan and Thailand and develop what it calls spiritual tourism.  
     
    It has connected key Buddhist heritage sites through a rail network on which the Mahaparinirvan Express plies. And it is trying to improve other infrastructure such as highways and airports for those who want to plan their own visits.  
     
    The head of India’s Association of Tour Operators, Subhash Goyal says the process has begun, but much more needs to be done. “In a lot of areas where hotels and other things need to come up and second is road connectivity, and there needs to be air connectivity connecting all these places with small planes or with helicopters," he said. "If the facilities improve and infrastructure improves, I am sure we can have two to three million tourists, just Buddhist tourists coming to India.”
     
    The government recognizes the need to invest more funds to develop what it calls the “Buddhist circuit.”  
     
    Tourism Minister, K.Cheeranjivi on a recent visit to Tokyo, said India needs more quality, budget accommodation close to prominent Buddhist sites and called on Japan to invest in the hospitality sector.    

    It is not just India that is hoping to draw in Buddhist tourists. Passengers aboard the Buddhist pilgrim train are taken via bus across the border to the tiny town of Lumbini in Nepal.  
     
    This town, where Gautam Buddha was born, has been getting a makeover for many years to provide amenities for tourists.

    Sharad Pradhan at Nepal’s Tourist Board says so far most of the overseas tourists come via India, but they hope to change that. “We have many tourists coming from Sri Lanka also, there are so many tourists coming from Thailand, Japan also. Now the government of Nepal is opening airport at Lumbini," he added. "So that will be complete within two years so that tourists can directly come to Lumbini.”
     
    In India, states rich in Buddhist heritage have begun reaping a dividend from Buddhist tourism. A decade ago, virtually no foreign tourists went to Bihar, which is among India’s poorest and least developed areas, but also the area where most Buddhist sites are located. Today, Bihar hosts nearly half a million overseas visitors.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    February 17, 2013 4:53 PM
    One of famous contempolary Sri Lankan buddhism preasts says in his books that Buddism is not a religion but a subject of psychology. Buddha investigated his own sensation, emotion and all mental sufferings to analize their causes to hundreds of kinds of psychological status. So he taught followers that mental sufferings would be solved by rational analysis of subjects' mental statsus. He neither wrote sacred books nor asked to pray himself or worship idles.

    by: kanikaal irumporai
    February 15, 2013 7:28 PM
    This kind of partnership and facilitation goes much further than simply promoting the tourist industry. It extends into the collaboration with the Buddhist fundamentalist regime of Sri Lanka, erasing the traces after the crimes committed and providing diplomatic shield to the perpetrators. Japanese top diplomat stationed at the UN in New-York was to make sure that no hurdles come in the way of this grand design and the other Buddhist forces to provide active support with India, which has it's own interests in the extermination project. IN contrary to popular belief that Buddhism is a peaceful and passive religion preaching kindness towards others, the reality especially the Theravadha branch of it, has a more violent and bloody past. Buddha might have preached peace and non-violence like Jesus the Christ, but most of his followers are not pea lovers. The sculptures in on the domes of many of historic temples are testimony to this, while the historical destruction of Mahayana branch in the Souther part of India and modern day Sri Lanka around the dawn of current era reveals more.

    by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
    February 15, 2013 12:36 PM
    Buddha is the true prince and will inherit the Kingdom. His angel is Michael ,Guardian of the children. Buddha went the way of the hunter, and found himself, in the same way that the Physician healed himself. (Christ). Truth can only come at a moment of Truth .'The Chosen One.'' As you search so shall you find.'

    by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
    February 15, 2013 11:32 AM
    The Buddhist heritage pre-dates Christian and Moslem heritage. But the Buddhist heritage is ignored because of Buddhism is a passive religion. The Buddhism originated in India and spread to other countries, not by conquering countries, but just because of the religious ferver where as Christianity and Moslem religion spread mainly by conquering countries and enforcing religion. The ancient Buddhists sites in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka are to be protected as world heritage sites for the future generations and for the tourists in the Buddhist circuit.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora