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Modi's Visit To Lumbini To Boost Nepal's Pilgrimage Tourism: Expert

Modi at the invitation of his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba paid a day-long visit to Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima on Monday

Photo Credit : PM Modi/ Twitter

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first visit to Lord Buddha's birthplace Lumbini is expected to give the much-needed fillip to Nepal's tourism sector still reeling from the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, a prominent Nepalese tourism entrepreneur said on Monday.

Modi at the invitation of his Nepalese counterpart Sher Bahadur Deuba paid a day-long visit to Lumbini on the occasion of Buddha Purnima on Monday.

Prime Minister Modi and Deuba laid the foundation stone for a technologically-advanced India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in Lumbini. Once completed, the Centre will be a world-class facility welcoming pilgrims and tourists from all over the world to enjoy the essence of spiritual aspects of Buddhism, projecting India's growing soft power.

Modi's visit to Lumbini has sent a positive message to Nepal's tourism sector, which is reeling under the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, said Bikram Pandey, a tourism entrepreneur and goodwill ambassador of tourism for the Lumbini Development Trust.

Modi's announcement that he is "honoured to be in Lumbini, to pay reverence at the sacred site of Lord Buddha's birth" will have a significant contribution in promoting pilgrimage tourism in Nepal, Pandey said.

The prime minister's visit has sent a message to all Buddhist pilgrims around the world that they should first visit Lumbini, where Buddha was born, before going to Bodh Gaya in Bihar, and Sarnath and Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh -- the other important sites associated with Buddha's life, he said.

Lumbini, located in the Terai plains of southern Nepal, is one of the holiest places of Buddhism. Bodhgaya is the place where Lord Buddha attained enlightenment while Sarnath, located about 12 km from the ancient temple town of Varanasi, is the place where he preached his first sermon after attaining enlightenment. He is believed to have attained Mahaparinirvana in Kushinagar after his death.

Modi has come to Nepal not only as the prime minister of India, but also as the leader and guide of 1.3 billion people of India, remarked Pandey, asserting that his Lumbini visit has added a new dimension to Nepal's religious tourism.

After Modi visited Muktinath in North-West Nepal in May 2018, the pilgrimage site has become a centre for attraction among Indian visitors, he underlined.

Both Nepal and India can benefit if they work together in developing a combined tourism package comprising important sites associated with Buddha's life, Pandey said.

The newly-constructed Gautam Buddha International Airport at a distance of 20 km from Lumbini will further boost religious tourism in Nepal, he pointed out.

Nepal Prime Minister Deuba on Monday inaugurated the second international airport of Nepal constructed with the support of the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Prime Minister Modi said the India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage in the Lumbini Monastic Zone will be an important centre for learning and cultural exchanges between India and Nepal.

"Honoured to have performed the Shilanyas for the Centre with PM @SherBDeuba, Modi tweeted.

Most importantly, the Centre will strengthen the shared bond of Buddhism between India and Nepal. It will also further popularise the teachings and noble ideals of Lord Buddha, he said in another tweet.

Addressing the International Buddhist Conference, also attended by visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in Lumbini, Deuba said a Buddhist circuit that connects Nepal's Lumbini with India's Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar will play a positive role in promoting cultural tourism between Nepal and India.

(PTI)


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