February 16, 2015

3rd International Buddhist Conference, Bhubaneswar, Odisha

Ever since I had seen the below tweet on @odisha_tourism handle, I had been very excited to be a part of 3rd International Buddhist Conference from 13-15 February 2015! 

Coming to know of the attractive itinerary, I was super-charged and decided that I would anyhow attend this promising event in the City of Temples, my beautiful city of Bhubaneswar.




Source: http://www.orissatourism.gov.in/portal/Festivals/SpecialFestivals/Buddhist.aspx









Underlying reason for my interest was that though I have been born and brought up in Odisha, I had still not visited the world famous Buddhist tourist circuit of Odisha called 'Diamond Triangle' consisting of Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri, Udaygiri. Also, I had always been curious about Buddhism, and I felt what better way to quench my thirst for knowledge of Buddhism than to attend an international conference on Buddhism in my very own city!

And that is how I embarked on my very own journey of enlightenment of 3 days. Below I shall give an overview of day-wise events with the promise to write specific posts on various Buddhist sites separately in the coming weeks.

Day-1 (13 Feb):

 

The inauguration of this Conference was done by Hon'ble Chief Minister of Odisha, Shri Nabeen Pattnaik. Among dignitaries and invitees were Shri Subhash Goyal, Chairman, IATO (Indian Association of Tour Operators); many tour operators from especially Delhi; scholars, researchers, Professors from around the country and the world. 


Source: http://www.orissatourism.gov.in/portal/Festivals/SpecialFestivals/Buddhist.aspx
 Engaging sessions were held after the inaugural ceremony:
a) Session 1: An interactive session where after dignitaries on the dias gave their views, the audience also gave many suggestions to help create action plan in unison with tour operators for promoting Odisha's rich Buddhist heritage. Catch a short report on this session in The Telegraph HERE, in which I've also been mentioned.
b) Session 2: Many researchers and Professors presented papers on Buddhism in Odisha and elsewhere in India. Very enriching session.
c) Session 3: Aim of this session was to deliberate on how to market our beautiful Buddhist sites to people within the state, country and the world. Practical suggestions came up.
In the evening, cultural programme was held at Rabindra Mandap, Bhubaneswar. An Odia album 'Deha Videha' of Buddhist Tantragan was launched, accompanied by video of sand art making by Sudarsan Pattnaik. Catch a few minutes of the magic HERE. The Sri Lankan dance performances after that were simply mind-blowing. Catch a glimpse HERE.

Day-2 (14 Feb):

 

This was the site visit day and a most memorable, surreal experience for me and I am sure, for all attending delegates. We were taken to the glorious 'Diamond Triangle' in Jajpur District, Odisha. 

First we went to Lalitgiri, which has four monasteries (one is still being excavated) and a rich repository of Buddhist artefacts right from 2nd century BC. Its Chaityagriha Stupa Complex (from 1st Century BC to 7th Century AD) is exquisite. MahaStupa here is also beautiful.



Next stop was Ratnagiri. This has the famous ornamental gateway as the entrance of rich excavated remains of Monastery-1. Votive stupas excavated around it add to the mystical element of the surreal surroundings. For us delegates, it was a most out-of-the-world experience when we got to join the prayers of the monks accompanying us, in the small and peaceful Buddha room inside the monastery. Catch the peaceful chants HERE.

Yours Truly at the rich ornamental gateway to Monastery 1, Ratnagiri

Finally we visited Udaygiri which is a lush green complex surrounded by hills. Nestled in such a pristine atmosphere is a stunning 9th Century AD stepwell and a small temple where Lord Jagannath is worshipped as Buddha. In Hinduism, Buddha is considered as an Avatar of Vishnu and Lord Jagannath is also Vishnu. Maha Stupa here is superb. Udaygiri felt like a place where the Buddha was actually giving the treasure of knowledge silently, as one of the monks said. 

MahaStupa at Udaygiri

Catch a photo essay of entire Day2 HERE.

As it was February 14, I felt that there could be no better way of celebrating Valentine Day than taking your loved one to Odisha's  'Diamond Triangle'- the perfect destination where love could reach a higher plane, become sublime, merge with spiritualism and simply transcend the world. On another thought, February 14 was my date with the Buddha and the destination could never have been more perfect than this! :) Felt completely blessed!


Day-3 (15 Feb):

 

This was the concluding day. First we were taken on a site visit to Dhauligiri, where Vishwa Shanti Stupa is there. It was here that Ashoka had transformed from Chandashoka (Evil Ashoka) to Dhammashoka (Pious Ashoka) after Kalinga War and had adopted Buddhism. Yes, Odisha is the sacred land called Kalinga in ancient times. Its people have been peace-loving, great seafarers, traded across countries of South east Asia and perfect ambassadors of generous Bharatvarsha since the very ancient times! Witnessing Ashokan Rock Edict of 2nd Century BC written in Prakrit language with Brahmi script was awe-inspiring. Also, the rock-cut elephant is majestic.



Later, there was another very fruitful session on how to enhance Buddhist tourism in Odisha. Now suggestions were more pin-pointed as all had experienced the main sites. After this session, the delegates were felicitated and major state government measures to boost tourism were announced.


The Conference, thus, ended on a successful and optimistic note giving many memories to cherish. Thanks Odisha Tourism for this wonderful experience. Let us all work to spread peace in the world...what better way than to follow Ashoka's philosophy of relegating violence, bloodshed and embracing secularism, peace and joy?! Let this message spread again from the soil of Odisha- modern day Kalinga....

Tourists from world over must come to Odisha to experience ultimate peace, bliss in life....Odisha/Kalinga beckons to you!


**This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.


Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers 

 

24 comments:

  1. Such a wonderful program. I wish it all success. We should preserve this heritage. Great pic of you! :)

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    1. Thanks a lot Indrani! Indeed v MST preserve and promote d sites for sustainable tourism! :)

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  2. Must be a very educative conf Amrita. TFS. Nice photos.

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    1. Thanks so much Paresh! :) it was educative, enlightening and gave peace and joy plus satisfaction at being able to contribute in enhancing tourist footfall to these stunning places...

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  3. Thanks for sharing friend.....seems so insightful and interesting as well :)

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    1. Thanks to U friend for reading this & commenting! Yes for millions in India & d world, Odisha is an untravelled route. One must visit Odisha to experience its beauty,serenity,peace and sheer magic- b'ful beaches,wildlife, temples,Buddhist sites,arts & crafts,music & dances with humble and friendly ppl!

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  4. I love Bhubaneswar and Orissa. I had an opportunity to stay there for 3-4 months and loved the culture and the ambiance. I loved the beaches, although Puri beach is awesome, I love the ones that are not very touristy and you can just lie down in solitude and enjoy the sounds of the sea. Konark is another awesome experience. Hopefully I get a chance to visit again....

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    1. Thanks a lot Santa for ur insightful comment! Yes indeed it is true dat ppl only go 2 Puri beach,unaware dat Odisha's 480 km long coast has many serene,pristine beaches to offer to spend time jst seeing & listening to d sea wid not a soul around..exhilerating..Puri,Konark,Bhubaneswar r no doubt d 3 most visited places yet other each of d 30 districts has marvels 2 b seen- ancient caves,wildlife, temples,dams,rock cut sculptures...just magnificent!

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  5. A rare theme - Internationally discussed. must have been enriching experience. And the photographs are really vivid.

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    1. Thanks Aditya! Very right..an enriching, enlightening experience!

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  6. Hey! Seems you are interested in Buddhism! Great to know that! I consider myself a buddhist more than a hindu. I went to Mcleodganj and learnt Buddhism there along with meditation. If you go to Mcleodganj, do give a try to Tushita meditation center. You can read about my Mcleodganj Itinerary on my travel blog.

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    1. Thanks Umang! Lovely dat U learnt Buddhism & meditation in a pristine place! I've not gone 2 Mcleodganj but will make it sumtym! :) thanks!

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  7. The place is beautiful! Love your pic. I would love to visit. Thanks for sharing.
    Would you like to follow each other on GFC?

    http://everythingthatclicks.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks Rosh! Plz do visit the xtremely well connected Diamond triangle of Odisha! Sure we can follow each oder! :)

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  8. Enlightening guide on a great organised event on Buddhism tour at Odisha. But for this blog, would not have been aware of the rich Buddhist cultural heritage in and around Odisha. Thanks a ton Amrita! Gotta share this blog with all my odia friends. And should plan a trip on this Buddhist circuit on my next visit to Odisha. Thanks

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    1. That is so lovely! Thanks so mch Bhaina for a detailed comment! Please share with as many Odia & non-Odia adventurous & travel-totting ppl as U can! These r rare, beautiful, stunning places having Buddha's heritage & sadly missing from Buddhist trail of India. This is my small contribution to getting Odisha Buddhist sites & Buddhist Conference on Google Search. :) Definitely U must visit!

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  9. Wonderful to get to e-visit this richness thanks to you, Amrita!
    Now waiting for my real visit! The Buddhist heritage of Odisha figures in my list :)
    Great that you got a chance to attend the conference.
    Super pics!
    Interesting Conference. Brilliantly shared.

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    1. Thanks a lot Anita! Feel delighted that so many ppl now HV our b'ful Buddhist circuit on their must visit places! Hope everyone makes it 2 witness true splendour! Conference was gr8 indeed. I m blessed 2 HV been able to attend it!

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  10. Reading your blog on the conference give the vicarious feeling of attending the same.It is really a great to see the Odisha tourism is taking such steps to promote the rich Buddhist heritage of our state.The state admin should also urge the Indian Railways to include to include Odisha in the Buddhist circuit pilgrimage tour.That will also give our buddhist heritage a lot of domestic and international visibility.The conference is really a great step to promote and spread awarness about our rich Buddhist heritage.

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    1. Thanks so mch Ajaya for your detailed comment! Yes Mahaparinirban Express had come to Odisha in 2013 but not after that...it shd b made permanent journey! Glad U got the feeling of having attended it...definitely visit 2 get the real peaceful feel! :)

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  11. rinky nice attempt.do your bit for its preservation and propagation.let the journey continue.....subashpadhi

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    1. Thanks a lot Mamu for encouragement! :)

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