Bhubaneswar, January 1 (Localwire): Dasho Passang Dorji, the former national speaker of the Parliament of Bhutan and the former president of the Mahabodhi Society of India, visited the Ratnagiri, Lalitagiri, and Udayagiri in the state on Tuesday.
He was accompanied by the chief secretary of the Chief Abbot of Bhutan Ugyen Tenzin, and personal secretary of the Chief Abbot Pema Dorji, along with a devout Buddhist Karma Lhamo.
The team led by Dasho Passang visited the museums at Lalitagiri and Ratnagiri and appreciated the efforts of the Archaeological Survey of India and the Government of Odisha for the upkeep and preservation of the important Buddhist vestiges.
The relics that were uncovered at Lalitagiri are now kept in the museum under proper care and security.
Dasho Passang lauded the efforts of the Government of India in promoting the ancient Buddhist sites and monuments all over the country and said that proper research should be carried out on the relevance and spread of Buddhism from Odisha and the role of Guru Padmasambhava and his origins from the state.
He also acknowledged the efforts of Dr. Sourendra Mohapatro from the Odisha Centre of the Mahabodhi Society of India (MSI) for the good work they were doing to promote the teachings of the Buddha.
“A research centre or a University Chair should be set up for cross-cultural studies of Buddhism in Bhutan and India,” he stated.
According to eminent historian and MSI vice president Dr. Bimalendu Mohanty, the growth of Buddhism in Bhutan was first advanced by the great Uddiyana Guru Padmasambhava in the 8th century C.E who laid the foundation of one of the most important and unifying forces that has sustained the Bhutanese people and contributed to the evolution of their unique cultural and religious tradition.
Dr. Mohanty had also validated the origins of Guru Padmasambhava being from Odisha in his book published a few years ago.
Noted heritage expert and a member of INTACH Anil Dhir, who accompanied the team to the Buddhist Circuit, said that the scope of religious and cultural tourism of these sites still remains untapped.
“If proper awareness and promotion is undertaken, these sites and the other Buddhist sites of the state will draw more than a million tourists annually,” Dhir said, adding that he has been a guide to many groups, both pilgrims and tourists to these spots, and has seen the overwhelming wonderment that they experience.
“Nowhere in India or the world can one find such a sheer profusion and rich Buddhist artifacts and relics,” he said.