Express press service
CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Tourism Department will research places related to Buddhism before promoting faith-related tours in the state, Tourism Minister M Mathiventhan said on Wednesday.
The decision to conduct more research on Buddhism in Tamil Nadu was made after a team of doctors and others representing the “Mass Movement for Transformation”, a group exploring Buddhist history and its relevance to the social structure of India, submitted a proposal to the minister to promote Buddhism-related visitation in the state.
Speaking to TNIE, Ms Mathiventhan said the tourism department had asked the group members to share with them available information on Buddhist places in Tamil Nadu. “We need to gather knowledge about Buddhist places and do research. Based on this, we can decide to promote Buddhism tours. We will definitely consider the proposal,” Mathiventhan said.
MMT member Dr Satva said: “Tamil Nadu has a well-established Buddhist culture. There are hundreds of followers worldwide for Tamil Nadu Buddhists. But people around the world only knew Bodh Gaya in Bihar, one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India. Millions of tourists visit Bodh Gaya every year. If ancient Buddhist places in Tamil Nadu are identified, renovated and promoted, hundreds of Buddhists from all over the world will visit Tamil Nadu. This will attract international tourists who follow the faith.
Dr G Govindarajvardhanan, a former member of the Tamil Nadu State Minority Commission representing Buddhists and a member of MMT, said there are many ancient Buddhist statues of archaeological significance in the state, but that they are in ruins for lack of maintenance. Some are even buried in rice paddies, he said. “I saw 50-60 Buddha statues in Tamil Nadu. In Perambalur district, an ancient Buddha statue located in a residential area was buried. In Ariyalur district, an ancient statue was found buried on a school campus,” Govindarajvardhanan said.
Tamil Nadu has a rich Buddhist culture and several Buddhist practices are still followed in the state without realizing that they are part of Buddhist culture, Govindarajvardhanan added.