List of ‘iconic tourist sites’ may be reviewed

Source: thehindu.com

The government’s plan to develop 17 ‘iconic tourist sites’ could see some changes, with Union Culture and Tourism Minister of State (independent charge) Prahlad Singh Patel ordering a review of the sites included in the project.

Mr. Patel ordered the setting up of a committee to look into the sites included in the plan, Ministry officials said on Monday.

Changes sought

Last week, Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan wrote to Mr. Patel asking him to include Odisha’s Konark Sun Temple and Jagannath Temple, Puri.

In July 2018, then Tourism Minister K.J. Alphons had said 17 ‘iconic tourist sites’ would be developed. These were Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh, Ajanta and Ellora caves in Maharashtra, Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar in Delhi, Colva Beach in Goa, Amer Fort in Rajasthan, Somnath and Dholavira in Gujarat, Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, Hampi in Karnataka, Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, Kaziranga in Assam, Kumarakom in Kerala and Mahabodhi in Bihar.

In her Budget 2019-2020 speech on July 5, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had mentioned the project again.

She said the government was developing “17 iconic tourism sites into world class tourist destinations and to serve as a model for other tourism sites.”

According to her, they iconic tourism sites would “enhance visitor experience which would lead to increased visits of both domestic and international tourists at these destinations.”

What’s behind Iconic Tourist Sites initiative?

Source: indianexpress.com

During her Budget speech earlier this month, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharamansaid that 17 “Iconic Tourist Sites” in the country would be developed by the government “into world class tourist destinations, to serve as a model for other tourism sites”. The initiative was aimed at enhancing India’s soft power.

The Sites

Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri (Uttar Pradesh), Ajanta & Ellora (Maharashtra), Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar (Delhi), Colva (Goa), Amer Fort (Rajasthan), Somnath and Dholavira (Gujarat), Khajuraho (Madhya Pradesh), Hampi (Karnataka), Mahabalipuram (Tamil Nadu), Kaziranga (Assam), Kumarakom (Kerala) and the Mahabodhi Temple (Bihar).

The Vision

Union Tourism and Culture Minister Prahlad Patel told The Indian Express, “The government is looking at overall development from the tourism point of view in and around these sites — which includes roads and infrastructure, hotels and lodges, connectivity and access”. As such, several ministries, from Railways to Civil Aviation, will be involved, while the Tourism Ministry will be the nodal agency. In keeping with international standards, interventions in and around the monuments will have elements of universal accessibility, green technology, and enhanced security for tourists.

The Funding

The Tourism Ministry has been allocated Rs 1,378 crore for the development of tourism infrastructure. This is only marginally more than the allocations in 2017-18 (Rs 1,151 crore) and 2018-19 (Rs 1,330 crore).

Role of ASI

A spokesperson of the Archaeological Survey of India told The Indian Express, “We have not yet received any plan or proposal from the Tourism Ministry about the project mentioned in the Budget… Meanwhile, upgradation and facelift projects at many of these listed sites are already on; some such as Red Fort and Qutub Minar even nearing completion”.

Status of ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme

Many of these monuments were opened up for adoption in late 2017 under the Ministry of Tourism’s Adopt a Heritage scheme. The Red Fort was adopted by the Dalmia Group, while the Qutub Minar and the Ajanta Caves were adopted by YatraOnline. But the momentum of the scheme has slowed down since, and only 11 MoUs have been signed so far.

Pradhan Seeks Inclusion Of Srimandir, Konark Temple In Iconic Tourist Destinations

Source: odishatv.in

Bhubaneswar:  After a single heritage site from Odisha was not included in the list of 17 sites to be developed as ‘Iconic Tourist Destinations’ as announced by the Centre in the Union Budget 2019-20, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has stressed on inclusion of Sun Temple and Puri Jagannath temple in the ambitious scheme.

In a letter to Union Minister of State (I/C) Tourism, Prahalad Singh Patel, Pradhan has highlighted that Odisha is home to several wonderful cultural and natural heritage sites. Among the several popular tourist destinations, Puri Jagannath temple and Konark Sun temple are the holiest pilgrimage and attractive tourist destinations in the State.

“Together with Bhubaneswar, Puri and Konark form Odisha’s golden triangle attracting millions of tourists and pilgrims from around the world and are breathing incarnations of Odisha’s socio-cultural identity,” wrote Pradhan.

The social fabric of Odisha is held together by seams of rich cultural history and devotion to Lord Jagannath. The Jagannath Temple at Puri is the ceremonial home of Odisha’s most revered deity, Lord Jagannath, and one of the four holiest dhams for Hindus. Host of the iconic Rath Yatra, the Puri Jagannath Temple is unifying beacon of Odisha’s quintessential Jagannath cult.

Pradhan further wrote that the Konark Sun Temple, the 13th century marvel is acknowledged as the zenith of Odishan architecture and recognized globally as UNESCO world heritage site.

“Keeping in mind the paramount historical, cultural and religious importance of Sun Temple in Konark and Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri for the people of Odisha, I request your personal intervention for inclusion of Sun Temple in Konark and Lord Jagannath Temple in Puri in the Iconic Tourist Sites,” Pradhan wrote in his letter.

Earlier, the Union Ministry of Tourism had identified several sites in 11 States under the Iconic Tourist Sites Development Project.

The sites include- Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh, Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra, Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar in New Delhi.

Other sites are Colva beach in Goa, Amer Fort in Rajasthan, Somnath and Dholavira in Gujarat, Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, Hampi in Karnataka, Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, Kaziranga in Assam, Kumarakom in Kerala and Mahabodhi in Bihar.

A school charges waste instead of fees in Bodh Gaya

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

For students of Padampani School, it is praiseworthy to be a part of a great initiative to keep the environment clean. Total credit goes to the school authorities, who encourage students to pick up wastes on the way to school and dump it at the dustbin kept at the entrance gate of the school. The school considers those wastes as school fees.

The school was jointly started by a Korean activist and a group of people from Bodh Gaya. Soon after it gained popularity, many social organisations started lending their support to the school. Manoj Samdarshi, the founder of Padampani School, said, “The school was started with a motive to educate poor kids of the nearby villages and to keep the areas around Mahabodhi Temple clean. A Korean social activist, Shin Geong Hawa, helped us a lot. Besides, we also get funds from other social organisations. The school is running well, and we have provided suitable infrastructure to the students.”

Currently, the classes starts from standard 1 to standard 8. However, constructions works are going on and soon it will get affiliated to the Bihar Board. Deepak Kumar, vice-principal of the school, said, “By now, over 250 students have got enrolled at our school and the number will only increase with the time. We provide all the basic facilities, including mid-day meals. Students also get to learn various co-curricular activities, including yoga and meditation from experts. We also encourage students to plant more trees. With the help of our students, we have planted more than 200 trees in and around the school premises. Students also learn more about environment preservation through workshops, which we organise frequently.”

Kyoto Animation: A home of art ruined in arson attack, leaves many devastated

Source: nationalheraldindia.com

Kyoto is a city in Japan with many Buddhist temples and historical structures. Today, it is in the news for an arson attack on one of its most significant cultural centres – an animation studio.

The attack has killed 33 people, and Japan is in mourning. This studio – Kyoto Animation – is home to some very popular anime (hand-drawn or computer animations). One of them is currently playing on Netflix India – Violet Evergarden.

Another popular anime, ‘K-On’, is about musically inclined high-school girls and their trials (airs on Hulu).

In fact, Kyoto Animation is known for aesthetically presenting emotions about life and its various emotions. How good is their work? They have a tremendous fan following, and you will find tributes from fans all over the world. America, in fact, is undergoing an anime renaissance, with more fans attaching themselves to new releases. And as per a 2018 article, anime popularity is increasing in India. And among fans, many works of Kyoto Animation are favourites.

There’s another importance to this place – much of its staff is a full-time hire, unlike the industry trend that promotes part-time and contractual work (with little pay). Naturally, Kyoto Animation attracted some of the best talent in Japan, some of whom make great art.

And that’s what has been lost today. Good art and great stories.

Stories about friendships and dilemmas that centre around a sport (Free), science fiction stories that bring out human emotions (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya).

And a personal favourite – a story about bullying and forgiveness and love. This anime, titled ‘A Silent Voice’, is also in the form of a comic book. It was given to me by a student I taught for a term. She is an ardent fan and I reckon that the content of this anime, with its myriad emotions, resonates with her just as it does with me.

And while she is more comfortable in Marathi and is not usually outspoken, my other acquaintances who like Kyoto Animation are opposites – one is an English speaking elite and the other is an extroverted middle class man more comfortable in Internet cultures than any other culture.

Kyoto animation, truly, cuts across countries and cultures.

Gaya: The Land Of Temples And Monasteries

Source: india.com

One of India’s holiest cities, Gaya is a centre for various faiths and beliefs including Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. Dotted with ancient temples and monasteries, the structures are testimony to the architectural brilliance of its past. For nature lovers too, Gaya is the perfect setting amidst hills, presenting a picturesque landscape that is calming and rejuvenating.

Vishnupad Temple

Located on the banks of Falgu river, the 18th-century temple is said to be constructed on Lord Vishnu’s footprints. However, the huge temple complex also displays images of various other Gods and Goddesses. There’s even a temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha in the courtyard of the Vishnupad Temple.

Bodhi Tree

Bodhi Tree is where Gautam Buddha had attained spiritual enlightenment. Located on the southern side of Mahabodhi Temple, the tree however is believed to have been grown from a sapling of the original tree in 620 AD. Legend goes that, the Bodhi Tree was destroyed many times; once by Emperor Ashoka’s wife and later by King Sesaka.

Chinese Temple And Monastery

Located near the Mahabodhi Temple, the Chinese Temple was built by the government and the Buddhist monks of China in 1945. The 200-year-old Buddha statue found inside is said to be from China, along with three other golden statues of Buddha. Built in traditional Chinese architectural style, it’s quite a wonder to the eye.

Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum

Established in the 1950s, Bodhgaya Archaeological Museum houses several relics that were unearthed in Gaya. The collections include rare sculptures belonging to the 1st-century BC, antiques of Hindu deities and Buddha made of various metals including gold, bronze and silver.

Royal Bhutan Monastery

Known for its wonderful depiction of the life of Buddha, this monastery was built by the King of Bhutan and ranks amongst the most majestic monasteries in the country. It also houses a beautiful temple with a 7 feet tall Buddha statue inside. The serene atmosphere in the monastery makes it a wonderful place to meditate.

Centre’s Proposed List of World-Class Tourism Sites Has None from Odisha, Stakeholders Unhappy

Source: news18.com

Bhubaneswar: The Union government’s decision to develop 17 “iconic tourism sites” in the country into world-class destinations has disappointed many here as none of the world-famous sites in the state has found a place in the list.

Sites of cultural and national heritage with significant global appeal abound in Odisha drawing millions of tourists every year.

The sun temple of Konark, a 13th Century architectural and sculptural marvel that keeps attracting foreign tourists, is among the 38 world heritage sites in the country identified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

The 10th Century temple of Lord Jagannath in Puri is another preeminent tourist destination in the state.

“The government is developing 17 iconic tourism sites into world-class tourist destinations to serve as a model for other tourism sites. The sites would enhance visitor experience which would lead to increased visits of both domestic and international tourists at these destinations,” said Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her budget speech on July 5.

The sites identified by the Ministry of Tourism include Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, Hampi in Karnataka, Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu, Mahabodhi temple in Bihar, Humayun’s Tomb, Red Fort and Qutub Minar in New Delhi, Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh, Amer Fort in Rajasthan, Somnath and Dholavira in Gujarat and Ajanta and Ellora in Maharashtra.

Since all of these selected sites are not UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the exclusion of Konark’s sun temple, a massive sandstone structure counted as one of the seven wonders of India, came as a rude shock to many in Odisha.

While other sites such as the Colva beach in Goa and Kaziranga National Park in Assam are among the 17 selected sites, similar sites of unique natural environment in Odisha were given a miss.

“It is disappointing. The selection process certainly raises questions. We will raise the issue with the Centre. Our MPs will raise it during the budget discussions in parliament,” said Minister for Tourism and Culture Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi.

The state, with its wealth of ancient sites of tourist importance, registered 1.5 crore tourist footfalls in 2018.

Top 5 Must-Visit Historic Monuments in North India

Source: india.com

India is a country with rich history in every nook and cranny. And the best way to step into the ancient world is by visiting the terrific monuments dotting the country’s length and breadth. However, these are some of the top ones in North India that you mustn’t miss any at cost.

Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

Constructed in mixed styles of Indian and Persian architecture, Humayun’s Tomb is one of the most beautiful heritage monuments existing in India. Interestingly, this is what inspired the Taj Mahal to be built in Agra. Humayun’s Tomb was built by the wife of Humayun to commemorate his death in the 15th century.

Fatehpur Sikri, Agra

While many would say that the Taj Mahal is a must-visit, the royal city of Fatehpur Sikri is an extraordinary experience unto itself. From palaces, public buildings, mosques, quarters for the king, army and the servants, there’s a lot to see here. Keep an eye out for the gorgeous carved columns and decorated pillars, all built in the 16th-century.

Hawa Mahal, Jaipur

Hawa Mahal or the ‘Palace of Winds’ is an interesting looking structure; it looks almost like the honeycomb of a beehive with its 953 intricate windows. Built by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh, Hawa Mahal is known as the tallest building in the world that isn’t built on any foundation. The palace stands firm due to its pyramidal shape.

Mahabodhi Temple, Bodh Gaya

One of the four holy grounds of Buddhism, Mahabodhi Temple is where the Buddha attained enlightenment while meditating under a fig tree. Built by Ashoka in the 3rd century BC, the temple holds a massive statue of Buddha. Interestingly, it is believed that this spot where Buddha attained enlightenment will be the last to disappear when the world ends and the first to reappear when the world is created again.

Gwalior Fort, Gwalior

Believed to have been constructed in the 6th-century by the Mughal Emporer Babur, the Gwalior Fort is often described as a pearl among Indian fortresses. This is where you’ll find the second oldest reference to the number zero. It’s a must visit if you’re in the iconic city of Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh.

Second special visit to Bodh Gaya for Sri Lankan Armed Forces personnel

Source: sundaytimes.lk

The High Commission of India organised the second edition of a special pilgrimage trip to Bodh Gaya from 15 – 18 June 2019 for 160 personnel of Sri Lanka armed forces and their families.

The special pilgrimage was started last year based on discussions held between the two countries towards increasing interaction and bonhomie between armed forces personnel of both countries, a statement from the Indian High Commission said.

This year’s trip has built on and expanded over the last one by not only having an increase in duration from two to four days but also inclusion of a reciprocal visit by 160 Indian Armed Forces personnel and their families to Sri Lanka.

During the trip, the Sri Lanka armed forces personnel and their families would visit the sacred Mahabodhi Temple, 80 feet statue of Buddha, Rajgir and Nalanda museum.

The Indian contingent which has arrived on a special request of Commander of Sri Lanka Army would visit important places in Sri Lanka. This includes a visit to Kandy where they would pay their respects at the Temple of Tooth Relic and to Galle. This is the first time when such large delegation of Indian armed forces with their families has arrived in Sri Lanka to undertake a visit.

An Indian Air Force C-17 Globemaster aircraft was specially deployed for transportation of the Sri Lankan and Indian contingents.

In addition to cultural and historical immersion, large scale interaction between armed forces personnel and their families would be undertaken both in India and Sri Lanka.

This would provide an ideal platform to develop personal and everlasting bonds of friendship between the armed forces of the two countries which are already sharing a very deep and robust professional relationship.   

Shri Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka and Lt General Mahesh Senananyake, Commander of Sri Lanka Army were at the airport to receive the Indian delegation visiting Sri Lanka and see off the Sri Lankan delegation for their visit to India.