Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama will hold an international peace conference in Sirpur, the town on the bank of the river Mahanadi, known for Buddhist viharas (monasteries). The 78 year old monk will be in Chhattisgarh as a state guest and inaugurate the conference on January 14. He will also be the main speaker in the conference. Dalai Lama visited Sirpur about a year ago.

The pristine forest town of Sirpur, about 100 kilometers north of capital Raipur, has been a place where relics of ancient Hindu temples and Buddhist viharas are both excavated in large numbers. According to legends, Sirpur is believed to be a second century BC excavated sites, when it was part of Dakshin Koasala, where Lord Ram stayed during his exile. However, modern historians claim that the history of Sirpur can be accurately traced from fifth century AD. There are eight viharas in Sirpur, which historians claim shed lights on Buddhism during the latter half of first millennium AD. Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang visited Sirpur in 639 AD and vividly described the town and the predominantly Buddhist rituals. Dalai Lama visited the Buddhist viharas last year.

“He loved the place so much that he wanted to come back. This time he also wants to meditate at famous Nagarjuna caves where many famous monks meditated earlier”, said Santosh Mishra, Managing Director of Chhattisgarh Tourism Board. The board, along with the Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University and Dalai Lamas organization will host the conference.