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Potential of Buddhist Tourism in India

The roots of Buddhism can be traced back to the heart of the Indian Subcontinent. Nepal, UP, Bihar etc. have had the Buddha course through them and create pilgrimage sites that Buddhists from around the world travel to. Tourism is one of the key features of India, and Buddhist Tourism, in this aspect, isn’t so far behind. With the development in tourism in India, Buddhist Tourism is also greatly accentuated due to the numerous pilgrimage sites across India. Let’s explore the chief points of how Buddhist Tourism can impact India’s tourism.

1. Sites of Buddhist Pilgrimage

 

Namdroling Monastery, Golden temple, Coorg, Karnataka - Mythical IndiaNamdroling Monastery, Photo by Ashok Prabhakaran, CC BY-SA 2.0

They key sites of Buddhist pilgrimage that have attracted tourists and pilgrims from around the world are the following:

  • Tawang Monastery, Arunachal Pradesh
  • Mahabodhi Temple, Bihar
  • Gandhola Monastery and Kardang Monastery, Himachal Pradesh
  • Dzongkhul Monastery, Jammu & Kashmir
  • Dhauli, Orissa

These sites are few of the many popular pilgrimage locations in India that are regularly making efforts to impart the ideologies of the Buddha to all pilgrims that visit throughout the year. The monasteries located all throughout India are creating a more peaceful and homely environment for tourists, which is proving to be quite beneficial to pilgrims.

2. Tourist Activities

Bodh gaya bihar - Mythical India

Bodhgaya, Photo by Man Bartlett, CC BY 2.0

 

Not only does Buddhist Tourism offer an array of pilgrimage sites, it also takes up activities that attract tourists and spread Buddhism far and wide. Publicity activities like half-marathons, bicycle tours, meditation tours, trekking, volunteer tours, and village tours etc. are organized to promote Buddhist tourism amidst pilgrims and tourists. They have been proven to have stirred quite a reaction among tourists, who are effortlessly attracted to these events, which has increased their visits to the pilgrimage sites as well.

3. Popularity of Buddhist Tourism

Sanchi Stupa, Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh - Mythical India

Sanchi Stupa, Photo by Nagarjun Kandukuru, CC BY 2.0

As an important and very popular tourist activity in India, Buddhist tourism has developed far and wide. This has caused greater advancements in the tourism sector of the country, and due to more and more people following the Buddhist ideologies everywhere, the popularity of Buddhist tourism has increased in the Indian Subcontinent. From Nepal to Bhutan, Sikkim, Jammu & Kashmir and almost the entirety of North-East India, Buddhism has gained greater momentum in the last decade. With the government and the Ministry of Tourism making worthwhile efforts at every point, in no time will Buddhist Tourism become the highlight of the country.

4. Technology and Tools

Thikse monastery, Leh, Buddhist tourism - Mythical India

Thikse Monastery at Leh, Photo by Silver Blue, CC BY 2.0

Technology develops as a country evolves, and tourism benefits from this greatly. Donations and financial expansion in the tourism sector has led to growth in the Buddhist tourism of India. The government is providing more developed facilities for tourists and pilgrims, which is gathering a lot of attention. For example, the Look East policy is propagating the Buddhist heritage of India by connecting North-east India with Southern countries which are under the Buddhist tutelage. With technology at their expense, Buddhist pilgrimage sites are developing well by adding features like the cashless eco system, revenues, avoidance of fake currency, tourism intelligence, loyalty, and multiple purpose utility cards along with virtual audio-visual guides.

5. States Promoting Buddhist Tourism

Statue of Rinpoche, Buddhist religious teacher, South Sikkim - Mythical India

Statue of Guru Rinpoche, Photo by Sudarsan Tamang, CC BY 2.0

The major Buddhist tourism sites are as follows:

  • Bodh Gaya
  • Champanagar
  • Hajipur
  • Gurpa
  • Vaishali
  • Kesaria Stupa
  • Nalanda

Not only the aforementioned, many other significant sites are being promoted and developed by state tourism facilities of the country. Through the government, all these sites will be thoroughly marketed among the world to attract more tourists, pilgrims, practitioners of Buddhism and scholars. Himachal, Andhra Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa etc. are the major states paying special attention to their Buddhist sites. Tourists and scholars will also find them beneficial to a great extent due to the efforts of the government and the Ministry of Tourism.

6. Contribution to Sustainable Development

Mcloedgunj, home to Dalai Lama in India, Dharamshala, Himanchal Pradesh - Mythical India

Mc Leodgunj, Photo by Adam Jones, CC BY-SA 2.0

Tourism and technology might develop, but the government has also devised a plan for sustainable development and eco-friendly nature of these popular sites. Training of rural entrepreneurs, growth of virtual itineraries and infrastructure progress is also being given importance to. Authorities are planning to develop the infrastructure better and create quality human resources in services provided to the tourists and pilgrims, along with producing connectivity, accommodation and safety of visitors. Remote destinations will be developed further to make them more inviting to tourists. 

Buddhist tourism seems to have a lot of potential in India, and if given proper attention to, can be developed greatly in future, by using the right resources and man-power.

 

Contributed By:

Rohit is an avid traveler and explorer. His excursions have resulted in bringing about vast knowledge of tourist locations all around India, with their significance made known to many through TransIndiaTravels.com.

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