Visakhapatnam

A peep into Buddhist heritage sites

Heritage conservationist Rani Sarma with the book authored by her.

Heritage conservationist Rani Sarma with the book authored by her.  

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Conservationist pens a book titled Thathagathuni Adugujadalu

At a time when heritage structures are being neglected and a number of them are getting damaged due to lack of maintenance and scientific conservation, Rani Sarma, a heritage conservationist, has written a book titled ‘Thathagathuni Adugujadalu’ (The vanishing footsteps of Buddha).

The book, co-authored by Undurti Sudhakar, will be released at Visakhapatnam Public Library in the city on Saturday. It focusses on Buddhist heritage and the condition of monuments in this part of the country that reminds one of a distinct heritage and culture.

Ms. Rani Sarma, who has a penchant for history, had earlier written a book titled ‘The Deodis of Hyderabad’ that highlighted the gross neglect of the ‘deodi havelis’ in Hyderabad.

Historical edifices are not just buildings made of bricks and mortar, but they speak about a culture, history, tradition and many other things, says Ms. Rani Sarma. “They need to be preserved and conserved for posterity. But unfortunately that is not happening.”

This impelled her to document the Dewan Deodis or the deodi havelis of Hyderabad or the Buddhist sites in Andhra Pradesh.

The book is similar to a travelogue that not only takes one to the places that house the remnants of Buddhism but also to a time when there was a flourishing Buddhist culture.

“Buddhism in our region dates back to 2nd or 3rd BC and it flourished till 4th AD. The region has seen all phases of Buddhism such as Mahayana, Hinayana and Vajrayana and that is history and heritage,” she says. In the pages, she not only pens about the sites, but also what excited her, what fascinated her and what saddened her.

Stupa collapse

According to her, every site has a story to tell and it should be told to the future generation.

“But unfortunately, they are not being preserved and conserved in a scientific manner and the authorities concerned turn a blind eye, despite it being brought to their notice,” she laments.

The timing of the book has coincided with the unfortunate collapse of the 2,000-year-old Mahastupa at Thotlakonda.

“It is a sad thing to happen, as the site is one of the oldest Buddhist monastery complex in this part of the country. We have written several times that it should be handed over to the Archaeological Society of India. But the previous State government had chosen to subordinate the State Archaeological Department to the State Tourism Department, and they undertook construction activity in an unscientific manner.”

The manuscript of the book, which is in English, has been aptly translated into Telugu by Mr. Sudhakar. Ms. Rani Sarma plans to get it published in English too.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 12:48:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/a-peep-into-buddhist-heritage-sites/article29790560.ece

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