Report by Pravuprasad Routray, Udaygiri: The 3-day International Conference on Buddhist Heritage of Odisha was inaugurated Tourism & Culture Minister Maheswar Mohanty in presence of Mohan Jena, MP, Jajpur, Sri Amar Prasad Satapathy, MLA, Badachana , Pratap Jena MLA, Mahanga, Prof. T. Donaldson, Eminent Historian from USA, Prof. Chitta Baral, Noted Scholar from USA, A. K. Tripathy, IAS, Principal Secretary, Tourism & Culture today at 11 A.M. at Udayagiri.
A. K. Pattanayak, Vice Chancellor, Utkal University of Culture presided over the function while Sri Harishankar Upadhyaya, Director, Tourism formally introduced the dignitaries and Sri A. K.Samal, Collector, Jajpur gave a vote of thanks. World famous Historians, Archaeologists, Scholars, Tour Operators, Travel Writers were assembled in the august gathering. The dignitaries are of opinion that adequate research works and excavations are required for bringing more significant aspects and hidden sculptural and architectural deposits of Buddhism for which Odisha is a rich repository. The diamond triangle i.e. Lalitgiri-Udayagiri-Ratnagiri is as much important as Nalanda and other Buddhist sites in Indian and abroad. The guests were welcomed with colourful folk dances of Odisha at the entry to the Conference Hall of Toshali Udayagiri Resort, who were overwhelmed with joy and ecstasy.
More than 324 Buddhists sites are reported from different parts of Odisha out of which 108 sites have remains of Buddhist establishments in the forms of Stupas, Chaityas or Monastic complexes. Votive stupas have been found from 53 sites. Nineteen sites have been excavated out of which four have been excavated extensively as Lalitgiri, Udayagiri, Ratnagiri and Langudi. The discovery of the tooth relics of Buddha in a golden casket has established the place as a centre of worship and learning. There is need to highlight the cultural heritage and the natural beauty of the famous Diamond Triangle. In the midst of tranquil natural beauty of mountains and hillocks, these places await to serve the humanity. For some reason or the other the cultural heritage and aesthetic appeal of these places have largely remained unexplored.
This is a modest attempt by the Department of Tourism & Culture, Government of Odisha to give boost to the Buddhist remains and its potential to attract tourists, scholars from across the globe.
Established and well-known scholars working on different aspects of Buddhism like Prof. T.E. Donaldson from U.S.A., Prof. Himansu Prava Ray, Chairperson, Monuments Authority of India, Dr. Gautam Sengupta, former Director General, Archaeological Survey of India, Prof. K.T.S. Sarao, Prof. Bhairabi Sahu from New Delhi along with around 200 learned delegates from India and abroad will deliberate for two days at the venue itself to juxtapose the religious, cultural and tourism potential of the area. The congregation also includes some practicing monks and scholars from India and abroad.
The Conference is organized by the Department of Culture and Tourism, Govt. of Odisha in association with OIMSEAS, Utkal University of Culture, Utkal University & Archaeological Survey of India, Bhubaneswar Circle. The local socio-cultural organizations, the District Administration and general public are whole heartedly co-operating with us for the success of the Conference, to highlight Buddhist Heritage of Odisha. The students of local Sobhaniya Sikhyasrama presented some enchanting recitals on Buddha and his philosophy while the students of Utkal University of Culture presented the opening chorus. The programme was compered by Dr. Sangita Gosain and En. Srinivas Ghatuari.