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Heritage walk brings to light neglect of Buddhist site

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UNDER CLOSE SCRUTINY: INTACH member Rani Sarma explaining about the heritage site at Bavikonda in Visakhapatnam to the participants of the heritage walk on Saturday. - Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam
UNDER CLOSE SCRUTINY: INTACH member Rani Sarma explaining about the heritage site at Bavikonda in Visakhapatnam to the participants of the heritage walk on Saturday. - Photo: C.V. Subrahmanyam

Staff Reporter

Sanctioning of various projects all around Bavikonda poses threat

VISAKHAPATNAM: What a befitting tribute to the Buddha? On the one hand important relics from the heritage site of Bavikonda (which dates back to 3rd century BC) are stored in the archaeological museum in Hyderabad and spiritual leader Dalai Lama is invited to inaugurate the new enclosure, and on the other the heritage site located 15 km from the city is subjected to constant threat due to sanctioning of various projects all around the protected area.

Historical importance

A heritage walk was organised by Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage (INTACH) on Saturday to bring to the notice of the people the folly of the Government that could lead to destruction of centuries old site of immense historical importance. The walk coincided with the proposed Kalachakra at Amaravathi in Guntur district.

"During the last few years, many developments had taken place close to the heritage sites, which are causing immense damage to the sacred site.

The participants in the walk found liquor bottles all around the site, which is an indication of gross neglect. Initially, 300 acres around Bavikonda was declared protected but later it was changed to area up to 300 metres by authorities concerned.

The 300 metres distance should be measures from the rim of the hill on all sides but now the distance was being measured from the top of the hill," INTACH activist Rani Sarma said.

Heritage zone

She demanded declaration of the entire corridor between Bavikonda and Pavuralakonda as a heritage zone and green belt.

Referring to the allocation of sites to private companies along the protected hills, she felt that once the private parties set up a base, there was a danger of public not being allowed anywhere near the heritage sites.

Ms. Sarma wanted promotion of heritage tourism and antiquity of the invaluable Buddhist sites.

"There was none to guide foreign tourists who came to visit Bavikonda today. There were no name-boards and signboards to give information to tourists," she added.

"Bavikonda site is of immense heritage importance for the country. Architecturally, the site acted as a bridge between the Northern and Southern schools of 'stupa' construction.

The Maha Stupa yielded the corporeal remains of Lord Buddha, which signifies the importance of the site," said INTACH co-convener Srinivas Murthy.

Ms. Annamaria De Pretis, a translator from the Khapa Institute for Buddhist Studies in Italy, was impressed by the heritage structures and the scenic beauty of the sea from atop the hill.

She is in India to attend the Kalachakra to be held at Amaravathi and accompanied by a Buddhist guide from Jammu and Kashmir.

Her work in Italy involved translation of Buddhist scriptures from Tibetan and English into Italian.

INTACH life members -- Jyotisingh Deo, Mayank Kumar Deo and PV Prasad -- renowned sculptor Ravi Shankar Patnaik, architects -- Bhimesh and Chandrasekhar -- were among those who participated in the walk.


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