An ambitious ‘theme centre’ on the historic Kalinga War near the Peace Pagoda at Dhauli will be built by Odisha state tourism department soon.
The Kalinga war was fought by Emperor Asoka of the Mauryan dynasty near the Daya river. It was believed that over 1,10,000 people died during this battle which later changed Asoka’s life. After the war, Asoka adopted and preached Buddhism for the rest of his reign.
Inaugurating the 3rd international conference on Buddhist heritage of Odisha, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said Buddhism is a way of life and the religion spread to other countries from the State. Odisha Government is taking proactive measures to cash in on the Buddhist roots of the State and bring in more tourists, particularly from the South East Asian countries, he added.
Though nearly 10 lakh tourists, including 6,000 foreign visitors, visit the peace pagoda every year, lack of recreational facilities for them has made it a not-so-special monument.
Tourism minister Ashok Chandra Panda today hinted at a mega temple-cum-meditation centre for all, a peace park and ropeway, so that tourists would never feel neglected.
Over 100 acres of land will be acquired on both sides of the bridge over Daya river from Kausalyapur mouza to Dhauli mouza for setting up the theme centre. The project, targeting Buddhist tourists in particular, would cost the Government more than Rs 100 crore.
A four-lane road connecting Pokhariput to Dhauli was also being built to reduce the distance from the city to the heritage site, official sources said.
President of the Indian Association of Tour Operators Subash Goyal, who came as a participant for the first time to the Buddhist conclave, said: “After coming here I came to know that Odisha has such a rich treasure of sites and Buddhist relics and all need to be highlighted and marketed by the state government and tour operators.”
Goyal also advised the state government and tour operators to explore possibilities of low-cost tour packages, so that more tourists from across the nation and abroad will visit Odisha.
“We have a lot of literature on the Kalinga War. There are facts which most people don’t know. The information can be properly disseminated through the centre,” said a tourism department official.