Thursday, April 28, 2011

Developing Ancient Buddhist sites in Rajgriha Forest

Developing Ancient Buddhist sites in Rajgriha Forest
Many important Ancient Buddhist pilgrimage sites are now in the ambit of forest laws.  For example, Rajgriha, once the capital of the Magadha Empire, played an important role in promoting the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. Rajgriha has many sacred relics from the Buddhist period that were visited by Chinese pilgrims like, Fahein, Xuanzang and many others.

Most of the places mentioned by Xuanzang have been correctly identified and are once again pilgrimage sites for modern Buddhists. Apart from the sites mentioned by Xuanzang, there are other sites not mentioned by him that hold Buddhist remains.  These remains suggest that during the prime of the Buddhist pilgrimage, these were also important sites.

Forests were favorite place among the followers of the practice of true Dhamma. Forests provided solitude for peaceful meditation practice. The nature of forests provided the perfect ambiance to followers for peace walks and guided meditation forest walks. Because of this, many important Buddhist places were located in forests.

Due to present-day forest management practices, many important ancient Buddhist sites now come under Forest Law, which often deprives the development of sites for the pilgrimage. Though there is a general understanding that developing these sites for the ancient Buddhist pilgrimage is important work, the procedure to do so is often so lengthy and difficult that many people are discouraged before completing the process.

We now have an opportunity to focus on the ecological, social and economic values of these forest areas by considering the local communities and stakeholders in sustainable forest management when developing sites for the Buddhist pilgrimage. We are privileged to be working with Shri Rakesh Kumar, a young and dynamic Divisional Conservator of Forest for Nalanda. Shri Rakesh believes in the middle path, one that takes both an interest in sustainable forestry and in Buddhist pilgrimage revival efforts.  At his request, we went together to Giriyak Hill, to explore the possibilities of reviving this ancient heritage site to once again be in reach of patrons of the ancient Buddhist pilgrimage.

This is just a beginning. We hope that with his efforts, other important places in and around Rajgriha may be appropriately developed to ensure a healthy relationship between forests and pilgrims.
Read more- Importance of Giriyak Hill 

Myself with DCF, Shri Rakesh Kumar

Shri Rakesh by an ancient brick remains

Reaching the Top after an 30 minute climb

View from the top of the Stone stupa

The Ancient piece of Glory

20 Ft Wide stone path from ancient times

Shri Rakesh Ji took special interest in developing access to the beautiful Ghoda katora Dam. The site is now an Eco-Tourism Destination but it faced same set of problems as it falls under the forest act.  Chief Minister Congratulated the team of officials from the forest department to make this a reality.

CM Shri Nitish Kumar Ji, DM, Nalanda Shri Sanjay Agarwal and DCF Shri Rakesh Kumar

Ghoda Katora Dam now open for Eco- tourism

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