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work to develop Kapilvastu

  • Too little on this side of the fence

LUMBINI, JAN 17 - Despite the long-standing tussle between Indian and Nepali nationalists over Buddha’s birthplace, Nepal has largely failed to revive its side of Kapilvastu, one of the most important Buddhist sites, while India has been aggressively making attempts to promote its section of the important archaeological and pilgrimage site.

Although both sites are located within 40 km of each other, India has been successful in developing the area at Piprahawa, while Nepal still lags behind in proper infrastructure and site promotion of Kapilvastu, the district where the Buddha was born.

According to Ajitman Tamang, member secretary of the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT), Nepal has failed to adequately develop and promote Kapilvastu due to a budget crunch. “It is not that we haven’t made an effort but most of our allocated budget is invested in the development of Lumbini. Hence, other sites related to the Buddha have not been developed according to their importance,” he said. “Even the Lumbini development master plan is very expensive by Nepali standards.”

The Lumbini Development Act 1985 states that three sites, including Kapilvastu, Dev Daha and Lumbini, need to be developed as pilgrimage and archaeological sites.

Information Officer at the LDT Chudamani Bhattarai said Lumbini has grabbed attention while the other sites have been undermined by stakeholders.

“This is the reason that sites in India are getting more attention. In just a few years, Indian development of their site has been massive while ours has been moving extremely slow,” he said.

Experts claim that Kapilvastu, during Gautama Buddha’s time, might have extended from north to west along the Indian subcontinent. However, archaeologists are fairly certain that the main part of Kapilvastu, also known as Tilaurakot, lies in Nepal. Inscriptions have revealed that mainland Kapilvastu’s features tally with the structure of Nepal-based site, with palace dungeons, massive double walls, clearly defined areas for the king, ministers, security and the river Rohini [now Badganga] which flowed by the palace.

Kapilvastu was excavated by Indian archaeologist PC Mukherjee in 1899. Only partially excavated back then, Kapilvastu hides more secrets, said Bhattarai.

“Right now, only the central, western and eastern parts have been uncovered. There is a lot more left,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the Indian side, an information board at their Kapilvastu site states that Buddha’s father Suddhodhan was the Shakya king and that the Shakyas received 1/8th of the Buddha’s aastus (relics). It also says that an Indian excavation has revealed other archaeological items from that era.

Echoing Bhattarai, media and publicity coordinator of Visit Lumbini Year 2012 Tikaram Rai said that Nepal is lagging far behind in promoting its Buddhist sites.

“Our media outlets have exaggerated claims for Kapilvastu. India has only been promoting their site as a possible extension of Kapilvastu but has not claimed it as the mainland where the Buddha spent 29 years of his life,” said Rai.

“It is just that we haven’t done enough and are only busy pointing fingers.”

Posted on: 2013-01-18 09:05

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