Sunday, December 13, 2009

Heritage not properly exposed

Nalanda remains are a small face of the big picture that is still hidden under numerous villages and the tourists need to be educated about what all lies beyond the realm of this complex. The water tanks, the unexcavated mounds and the journey of various spiritual leaders need to be weaved into the traveling routes to make it a more comprehensive tour. In the present circuit, tourist get to see only the one aspect of Nalanda and that is the excavated remains on the Nalanda University but there are a myriad of other equally interesting reasons that could interest a visitor. Even if the interpretation program is stepped up and the tourists is made aware of all that, that lies beyond the boundaries of the Nalanda ruins and that the whole area of the university is not exposed, it would fire up the imagination of the tourists; potentially inviting them to explore other archeological sites.

Fig- Jain temples, Sun temple and Water tanks that can be part of a comprehensive tour

The Jain temples and Jainism is part of Nalanda since the beginning and the religion has roots in this area. Buddhism and Jainism has grown together in this area and so did Hinduism, they all coexisted while accepting differences and yet cooperating. This is a unique place where such unity between various streams of thought existed despite the difference in their philosophies. In the modern day of cut throat competition and growing intolerance, Nalanda can emerge as an example of sustainable interdependencies.
The current management of tourists doesn’t allow them to explore the inter-religious perspective of this place. This place requires a better circuits and interpretation need to be adjusted to make smoother transition between temples of different faiths.
There are many tanks spread throughout the landscape of Nalanda, they are majestic tanks and hold numerous stories in them that can be a part of the interpretation program of Nalanda. Besides the intangible resources they have a physical significance in their origin and can be of interest to somebody visiting Nalanda.
Xuanzang was a passionate Buddhist who traveled a torturous journey from China through snow and desert just so that he can visit Nalanda and the land of the Buddha. A lay visitor is still unaware about the exhilaration he must have felt to witness it all through his own eyes and the honor it was to learn from the best teachers of his times. Though all that is history, those vibes can still be felt if the tourists are directed properly about the significance of each ritual, each step and each particular path. The current scenario focuses its attention on temple number three and that too it’s an archeological site, the spiritual and the inspirational feature of this place is not properly staged. The intangible has to align with the physical structures to build up the potential of this place.

Nalanda also needs better presence on the web, tourists tend to gather information about the place they visit through websites, books and booklets; and some valid and enriched information needs to be provided to lure visitors in through these mediums. Those travelers who visit Nalanda spend an average of 45 minutes and that amount of time is barely enough to see the ruins let alone explore new territories or spend time interacting with community. Proper signage and mile makers along main traveling routes would help make people more aware of the other cultural gems and their potential stay would likely improve and that in turn would help the local economy.

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