Will India win the Buddhist Circuit?

What’s your favorite tourist destination? How often do you go to that place? Is it OK for you to visit that same place again and again, year after year for another 15 or 20 years? Kanyakumari is one such place for our family. But we don’t go there to play in the shores or watch the sun rise or to take a boat ride to Vivekananda Rock, but for praying in the Devi Bhagavathi Amman temple. Once people feel the divine power helping them after visiting a holy place, they keep coming again and again to seek the blessings of God. It’s not just for common man, as you’d have heard, even for a billionaire like Anil Ambani, seeking the blessings of the Hindu God of wealth, once is not enough. And that’s the power of Religious Tourism for you.

Apart from having lot of holy places for Hindus, India also have many places of historical and religious importance to the Buddhist faiths. Out of the four important places in Lord Gautama Buddha’s life – Lumbini, his birthplace; Bodhgaya, where he attained enlightenment; Sarnath where he preached his first sermon; Kushinagar where he achieved Mahanirvana – except Lumbini which is in Nepal, other three places are in India. There are quite a lot of people following Buddhism in the economically well-off countries in Asia like China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. India can very well attract these people with its Buddhist tourism package.

Well, one good thing to note here is the Indian Govt. is not turning a blind eye to these possibilities. Indian Railways has started a special Buddhist circuit train – Mahaparinirvan Express – that will cover all the important places of Buddhist pilgrimages in India in 15 days. Even the states like Bihar and UP are doing their bid to promote Buddhist tourism in their state with their special Buddhist circuit tours covering the places of Buddhist interests within the state.

In addition to the Government’s efforts, Buddhist community is also doing very good work. The ongoing Maitreya project to build a 500 ft tall Buddha statue, which will be the world’s biggest statue of Buddha in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh is a great step forward. No doubt, once completed this will be a great attraction for the Buddhist tourists abroad.

Brand Incredible India, brings the world wonder Taj Mahal or the great Himalayas or the royal Indian palaces or the ancient art works or the rich cultural and historical sites to the minds of the tourists. Buddhist circuit, definitely is not in the top list. Also Indians themselves are not aware of the significance of Kushinagar or the construction of the biggest Buddha statue or the roll out of Mahaparinirvan express. Launching a luxury train or keeping the fares in dollars is not enough. Tourism Ministry needs to improve its marketing effort to promote India as a tourist destination for the Buddhists. They need to keep in mind that religious tourism is not only for the monks and sages, it is the common man who needs the blessings of God more to survive in this competitive world.

The beautiful backwaters in Kerala were there even before the 80’s, but it was only after the aggressive promotion campaigns by the successive Governments, God’s own country became the fastest growing tourism centre in India. Similar effort needs to be put now to woo more tourists to the India’s Buddhist circuit. Will India wake up to the potential of its Buddhist circuits?


  1. Siva Kumar says:

    “it is the common man who needs the blessings of God more to survive in this competitive world.”

    I am not able to decipher the rationale thinking behind this. While Ambani needs God’s blessings, I wonder where Bill Gates (an Atheist/agnostic) go to get ‘blessings’?!.

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