UP Buddhas to be taller than Bamiyan
New Delhi, June 22: India could soon have the world’s tallest Buddha statues, which the Uttar Pradesh government plans to build in the city of Sarnath with help from the Japanese government.
“We have submitted a proposal to the Japanese government for Rs 10.26 billion, which includes the construction of the Buddha statues in Sarnath,” State Tourism Minister Ashok Yadav said.
The Sarnath Buddhas will be India’s answer to the destruction of the two giant statues in the Bamiyan province of Afghanistan, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Rajnath Singh has said. The Taliban militia destroyed the statues earlier this year, calling them un-Islamic.
The foundation stone for the construction of the Sarnath statues will be laid in August. Sarnath, in Uttar Pradesh, is one of the four places associated with the life of Buddha, who preached his first sermon there after attaining enlightenment. The site is noted for monasteries, temples, inscriptions, sculptures and other antiquities dating 3rd BC to the 12th Century AD India’s emblem, the Ashoka Pillar, is also located in Sarnath.
Yadav said the government proposed to make the Buddhas higher than the two Bamiyan statues, the first of which was carved out in the 3rd century AD.
At 53 meters and 36 meters respectively, they were the tallest standing Buddhas in the world before they were destroyed in February-March. About Rs.770 million of the entire funds sought from the Overseas Economic Corporation Fund of Japan has been spent on the rejuvenation of the Buddhist circuit in UP, the Minister explained.
The Buddhist circuit features places in eastern Uttar Pradesh associated with Buddha’s life, like Sarnath, Sravasti, Kushinagar, Kapilavastu (Piprahwa) and Kaushambhi. This circuit is dotted with monuments and relics, legends and history that epitomize the birth, decline and finally the resurrection of Buddhism.