The search for the footsteps of Buddha in Bihar has gained fresh momentum.
The state government has decided to identify sites to be included in the Buddhist circuit. The art, culture and youth affairs department and the tourism department are working together to expand the circuit that covers Vaishali, Patna, Rajgir, Pawapuri, Bodhgaya, Nalanda and Kesaria ' all places associated with Lord Buddha developed by Bihar Tourism.
Bihar is set to receive funds of Rs 1,000 crore from the 13th Finance Commission in phases soon. The funds would be used for preservation of the existing Buddhist sites and conservation of the newly identified ones. Art, culture and youth affairs minister Sukhada Pandey said: "The funds would come to the state over a period of five years and the amount will be used for the preservation of Buddhist sites in Bihar. New Nalanda Maha Bihar, an independent agency in Nalanda, has been assigned with the task to map the places and create a route of wherever the Buddha went in the state. The work is on."
The minister added that while the agency was working on mapping the new sites, the government has identified around 29 archaeological sites related to the Buddha. These sites would also be preserved and conserved, she said.
On Tuesday, tourism minister Sunil Kumar told The Telegraph: "The idea is to identify more places of Buddhist importance and include them in the Buddhist circuit after developing the sites. We are co-ordinating with the art, culture and youth affairs department in this connection. Things are being worked out in a phase-wise manner and the Buddhist circuit will be expanded soon."