The Andhra Pradesh Government has proposed to hold ‘Kalachakra’ initiation — ‘wheel of time’ or ‘time-cycles’ rituals in Buddhism, where disciples are initiated into higher forms of meditation and rituals — in the presence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. This comes as part of the serious efforts by the AP govt to promote Buddhist centres in the state, and the ancient Buddhist town of Amaravati as a major tourist destination.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, in a review held on tourism sector in Vijayawada Friday, asked the Tourism Department officials to invite His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and also Buddhist monks from 71 countries for the ‘Kalachaktra’ programme.
“The Chief Minister asked the officials to consult Buddhist monks and take suggestions for organising the initiation. He said that the largest Buddha statue will be built on the Seta Nagar hill near Vijayawada. He also said that the tourism sector in AP would become one of the main revenue generator,” a Tourism Department official said.
The AP Government is also developing a Buddhist Pilgrimage and Tourist Circuit including the ancient city of Amaravati which is 18 kms away from the new capital city of Amaravati near Vijayawada; Undavalli Caves near Vijayawada which are said to be the finest rock cut architecture caves of Buddhists in India; Nagarjunakonda in Guntur; Chandravanam Buddhist sites in Prakasam district; Anupa in Guntur, the site of an ancient Buddhist University; Gopalapatnam stupas, and Bojjannakonda which has a huge statue of Buddha cut into rock, on the outskirts of Vizag; Thotlakonda near Bheemli town, 50 kms from Vizag, which was a popular exchange post for Buddhist culture between India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia in ancient times, and the site of a Hinayana Monastery; Bhattiprolu in Guntur, the site of an ancient Mahachaitya Stupa from Sala Kingdom; Dantapuram in Srikakulam district which was a popular religious centre; Pavuralakonda in Vizag district which was an ancient Buddhist settlement; and 17 other Buddhist excavation and settlements sites.
Tourism department officials proposed to extend the 100 per cent exemption of the luxury and entertainment tax for 2 years, which as of the 2015 tourism policy is valid only for 3 years. Officials informed the Chief Minister that to promote local tourism, the regional cooking contests will be held in Vijayawada and Tirupati this month and in Vishakhapatnam in February 2017.
A presentation was made by the officials of the tourism department on the various events which are being taken up by them. A total of 18 tourism events, 45 cultural programmes, 3 heritage fairs, 36 cooking contests and a range of other events will be held informed the officials to the Chief Minister.