Good news! Lord Buddha’s caves being scanned as Eco-Tourism formally launched in Bihar

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Eco-Tourism launch in Bihar comes as a good news for the state as it speaks the story of sustainability for village folks residing here. Lord Buddha’s caves are being scanned with the launch of this initiative

By Harsh Vardhan

What a section of the Bihar Government is doing during present difficult time? The Department of Forest has come up with an outstanding exercise and received collaboration with the USAID and its office in New Delhi: to create first ever Eco-Tourism initiative at Barabar Hills and adjoining natural heritage sites, located about 35 km away from city of Gaya, which is renowned for “pind-daan” (offering last homage to one’s departed souls).   

Young DFO receives enlightenment under age-old peepal tree

Abhishek Kumar is the young Divisional Forest Officer (popularly known as DFO) posted at Gaya who is shouldering entire responsibility of this Herculean project. He often stands under the  age-old Peepal tree (Ficus religiosa), standing within his office premises, to ponder over next actions, considering Lord Buddha had received enlightenment under the same specie of tree at Bodh Gaya, only 9 km away: seeking light on a topic not common to practice in India. 

Eco-Tourism’s first phase to be completed by March 2021

Kumar has sought support of various experts to enable the Department attain the target, completing Eco-Tourism’s first phase by end of March 2021. Gaya has a good number of Non-Government Organisations which remain busy with development or agro-forestry related works. Anup Kumar Singh’s PRERNA, a Madhya Pradesh based organisation, has joined hands with the authorities to attempt and deliver.  

Abhishek Kumar, DFO at Gaya Bihar having a session on Eco-Tourism for the ancient Barabar Hills (photo courtesy Harsh Vardhan)

Villagers told, ‘This is your forest and you should conserve it’

The formal start was made by Abhishek Kumar on 24 November 2020 by holding a day-long session at the foot of the hills. A cross-section from rural communities assembled to listen to him. They represent the Eco-Development Committees (EDCs). The Forest Department is determined to carry out almost all works through such stake-holder groups to win their active participation.  “This is your forest and you will need to conserve it as we, the forest people, will be there only to check if any nuisance was to happen” in bold terms Abhishek told the gathering, “It is time for you village people to earn more, locally and better though this project.”

Experts join hands to exploit the best from eco-tourism

Anup has long conservation experience having worked abroad after his degree from the Indian Institute of Forest Management at Bhopal. He has grouped a new set of experts to carry out Eco Tourism activities at that place. It is to let rural people earn more locally. Barbar Caves are 3 century BC. Lord Buddha created them. Lakes amidst forest are an added attraction here. A temple atop hills is dedicated to Lord Shiva. How to market this natural regime to overseas tourists? The present set of experts are poised to seek answers to such a question, big as it is. His New Delhi based experts offer vital technical inputs to him. 

EB&W sends best wishes for this unique venture. 

Please see: The feature image signifies rural communities taking round of the ancient Caves at Barabar Hills near Gaya in Bihar

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