Bringing spirituality and rich heritage of Uttar Pradesh together, the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department organized the ‘Bodhi Yatra‘ conclave in New Delhi on 28 June to commemorate the extraordinary journey of Lord Buddha. The event highlighted Uttar Pradesh’s significance as a Buddhist pilgrimage destination and the tourism potential of the state.

The conclave witnessed the presence of key officials, including the Minister of Tourism, Government of India, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat,Minister of Tourism and Culture, Uttar Pradesh, Jaiveer Singh, Secretary, Union Ministry Of Tourism, V. Vidyavati, Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh, Durga Shankar Mishra, Principal Secretary of Tourism and Culture, Mukesh Kumar Meshram, Special Secretary of Tourism, Eesha Priya, Director General of IBC, Abhijit Haldar and Former Deputy Speaker of CTA, Acharya Yeshi Phuntsok.

Ambassador of Singapore, Simon Wong, Ambassador of Thailand, Pattarat Hongtong, Ambassador of Myanmar, Moe Kyaw Aung and ambassadors from many other countries like Bhutan, Japan, Indonesia, Argentina, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam etc. graced the conclave reflecting India’s strong international ties.

Members of the International Buddhist Council, academicians,representatives of National and International organisations, bureaucrats, travel writers and bloggers were also present at the event.

The event commenced with a presentation by the Special Secretary, Department of Tourism Uttar Pradesh, showcasing the rich history, culture, and heritage of the state’s six major Buddhist sites: Sankisa, Sarnath, Shravasti, Kapilvastu, Kaushambi, and Kushinagar. She said, “Uttar Pradesh, with its rich religious diversity, continues to inspire and uplift those who seek a deeper understanding of life and enlightenment.” The presentation also outlined investment opportunities and Uttar Pradesh’s investor-friendly tourism policies aimed at boosting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the tourism sector.

In his address, the Union Minister of Tourism and Culture thanked the Uttar Pradesh Tourism Department for organizing the Bodhi Yatra. He said, “India is not the land of war, but the land of Buddha’. This holy land gave the message of truth, non-violence, kindness and compassion to the entire world. and Uttar Pradesh is a prominent part in this legacy. The Prime Minister had envisioned creating various tourist circuits in the country. The first circuit in that is the Buddha Circuit. I want to congratulate Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Tourism Minister Jaiveer Singh that the Uttar Pradesh government did important work to bring the Prime Minister’s vision to reality.” Minister of Tourism and Culture, Uttar Pradesh said, ‘Uttar Pradesh is the fourth largest state in terms of area. It is the largest state with a population of 25 crores and is equal to the fifth country in the world in terms of population. Fortunately, all the places from the birth of Lord Buddha to his education, attainment of knowledge, preaching and religious awakening campaigns and Mahaparinirvana (death) are located here. Under the guidance of our Chief Minister, we are developing the Buddhist circuit propagating the strong historical, cultural and spiritual ties of Buddhism with Uttar Pradesh on the world map and attracting Buddhist pilgrims from India and abroad in large numbers.”

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Addressing the ‘Eco-Tourism Samvad’ in the Mercury Hall of Indira Gandhi Pratishthan, the Chief Minister said, “UP has several sites that attract tourists like Naimisharanya near Lucknow, Chitrakoot, Shukteerth, Vindhyavasini Dham, Maa Pateshwari Dham, Maa Shakambhari Dham in Saharanpur, and Buddhist pilgrimage sites such as Kapilvastu, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Shravasti, and Sankisa. Additionally, there are numerous possibilities for spiritual tourism linked to Jain and Sufi traditions.”

Chief Secretary, Government Of Uttar Pradesh said, “Uttar Pradesh is cradle of Buddhism and this Bodhi Yatra is an initiative to make you experience the serenity and divinity of Lord Buddha. The significant events of Buddhism took place in UP and this event aims to promote these Buddhist sites on the global map. Working under the vision of our Prime Minister and through constant efforts of the State government and the Tourism Department, we have developed infrastructure and world class tourist facilities at these sites emerging as the top tourist destinations in the country Through our investor-friendly tourism policy, the stake holders can become a significant part of this transforming journey of Uttar Pradesh in the tourism sector.”

Speaking at the event, Secretary, Union Ministry of Tourism said, “ Buddha resides in the heart and soul of Uttar Pradesh. Govt of India in collaboration with the Govt. of Uttar Pradesh aims to not only create a memorable experience for the buddhist pilgrims but also ensure the development and better employment opportunities for the local communities. We are also keen to enhance the infrastructure and amenities of Buddhist Museums in the state as they are a living source of history.”

In his speech Principal Secretary, Department of Tourism and Culture. He said, “Uttar Pradesh has emerged as a popular tourist destination attaining number one spot in domestic tourism and we are hopeful of attracting a higher number of inbound foreign tourists as well in near future.”

He said, “We wanted to reveal the spiritual and cultural connection with different countries in South Asia and Southeast Asia and improve cultural diplomacy with the support of the Ministry Of External affairs and promote Foreign Direct Investment in the state. We have already allotted 02 acres of land in Varanasi to Bhutan Govt. for the construction of temples and guest houses. Through this platform we also offer all the other countries to invest in the hospitality and tourism sector of all these six sites and we assure you that we will provide all the mutual cooperation needed.”

Attendees were treated to a cultural show depicting the life of Lord Buddha, from his birth to his enlightenment and attaining Mahaparinirvana. It highlighted the foundation of Buddhism and celebrated its rich historical, cultural and spiritual connection with Uttar Pradesh. It also underlined how the Buddhist circuit is one of the favorite travel destinations for both National and International visitors.

  • Published On Jul 1, 2024 at 10:26 AM IST

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