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Nishu Ji Lochan/ Our Bureau
Located on the river bed of Ganga, the historical Ajgaibinath temple, rock cutting sculptures, the picturesque Murli Pahar and the restless flowing of Ganga in surroundings virtually mesmerized some two dozen foreign tourists today who are on river expedition to Varanasi from Kolkata.
On the eve of Maghi Purnima, a noted ritual in which thousands devotes take a dip in the holly river Ganga, when Sultanganj decked up to welcome the devotes, the cruise on which the foreign tourists were traveling, anchored on it’s riverbank. “We became excited to witness such beautiful place from our cruise but more surprises were waiting for us when we landed here and witnessed the unique items,” said Tom Baltimore, a tourist.
The tour manager said that a team of tourists from different places like America, England, Australia, New Zealand, Africa have started their voyage on riverways. “Previously we stopped at VIkramshila and all of them were enchanted to witness the ruins of the world University which has been also contributing for surviving Buddhism in the world today,” he pointed out. According to him every year, many tourists from abroad visit different places of India having religious, historical or archaeological significances.
“But this water route has become very popular among the foreign tourists as they have the privilege to enjoy many sightseeing places having historical or religious importance like Vikramshila , Sultanganj , Patna etc. There is a sharp booming of foreign tourists on riverways through cruises,” the trip manager admitted.
The tourists, many of them are first timer in India, excited and thrilled to witness Murli Pahar, the Ajgaibinath temple atop of it and the rock cutting sculptures. “Earlier we witnessed such sculptures at Vikramshila and also observed such things on the rocks here at Sultanganj. But all such testimony of history were laying abundant, we observed how local people were busy to pouring water on it and putting vermilion marks on it as part of rituals as we were told,” said another American lady tourist who have wide knowledge on archaeology.
The point raised by the foreign tourist was very pertinent – people from abroad who visited such places for a short while even could witness the faults by our parts; our negligence to take any conservation measures for such precious treasure troves of the ancient history.
Earlier, News5Pm had focused exclusively on how such rock cutting sculptures at Murli Pahar were destroying due to apathy and negligence. The than deputy inspector of police, Bhagalpur zone, Vikash Vaivhab who also has keen interest in history, had taken cognizance but he too failed in taking appropriate steps for the conservation of such precious testimonies of Pala kings from the interference of local people. “Even the temple management has caused damage to such sculptures and blocked many of them by bricks walls,” said Amit Kumar a local resident of Sultanganj.
Many people having some interests on history and archaeology lambasted state government as well as union tourism ministry for ignoring such unique treasure troves of yesteryears. “In other countries the governments uses to promote such ancients ruins or places having historical evidences in terms of tourism and huge revenue has been generated every year. While, we yet not aware about the importance of such things nor we are interested for the marketing of such things here,” Siv Shanker Singh Parijat, a former retired officer of government of Bihar. Parijat, the author of a book on Dipanker Srighyan Atisha, virtually turned upset while describing the sorry saga of Vikramshila or Sultanganj.
The team of tourists too echoed Parijat and many of them raised question on the lack of basic amenities at the half-excavated site of Vikramshila. “A sizable number of foreign religious tourists visit Vikramshila, the pioneer of todays’ Buddhism and for Dipanker, the great human-turned God, of the Buddhists who follow Lamaism. More tourists who visit other places attached with Buddhist tourist circuit in the country, could not visit Vikrmashila due to lack of basic amenities as well as it still not fulfilling the certain criteria essential for a place to become host for foreign tourists. The much talked central University proposed by the central government on 2015 at Vikramshila, still remains a dream due to the hostile attitude of state government, Bihar,” Parijat vented out the frustration.
Sultanganj has the same capacity to attract foreign tourists for being the part of ancient history. “Look the entire region known as Anga Pradesh having its capital Champa. Champa, had the privilege to witness a developed urban civilization which was contemporary to 6 th century BC. Bihar archaeology department had conducted detail survey but yet not published its report. While post graduate department of ancient history, Patna University recently has published the excavation report of Champa. Fresh excavation should be needed immediately at Champa,” pointed out Raman Sinha, a faculty of history at Tilka Manjhi Bhagalpur University. He said a number of tourists who are the followers of the school of Jainism also visit Anga Pradesh (Bhagalpur and its surrounding parts of eastern Bihar) every year.
The prolong negligence by part of the government towards the Anga Pradesh as a whole is considered to be threat to the history as such heritages gradually have been destroying for the lack of proper patronages. Secondly, poor state like Bihar easily could generate revenue from tourism at such places. Vikramshila is the classic example where tourists from abroad want to visit but infrastructural hurdles restrain them to visit the place like other tourist spots in the country.
“I don’t know why the government failed to understand the marketing of such historical heritages in this region in terms of tourism. The places have tourism potentialities and place like Sultanganj or Vikramshila still has the capacity to allure tourists not only from the country but also from abroad,” pointed out Santosh Kumar, a businessman at Bhagalpur.