KP govt set up Buddhist trail to boost religious tourism

ISLAMABAD, Oct 9 (APP):As a part of its plans to promote religious tourism in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the provincial government has set up a Buddhist trail to attract the followers of Buddhism and monks from across the world.

“A Buddhist trail has been developed in the province to facilitate the monks and foreign tourists for visiting some 20 sites, which have thousands of Buddhist relics,” a senior official from Directorate of Archaeology and Museums Khyber Pakhtunkhwa told APP here on Wednesday.

He said the trail started from Khanpur and culminated at Swat, covering several Buddhist sites, including Julian , Bhamala, Jinnah Wali Dheri, Hund Museum, Rani Ghat, Peshawar Museum, Gor Khatri, Takht Bahi and others.

He said the provincial government was spending Rs1 billion to develop the archaeological sites in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which would eventually help promote religious tourism and generate revenue for the province.

“This includes Rs500 million from the World Bank and Rs500 million earmarked by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in its budget,” he added.

He said the government’s efforts for promotion of religious tourism had started yielding positive results as the province was receiving a huge influx of pilgrims. Gandhara Civilization was the major source of attraction for the tourists and the followers of Buddhism, he said.

The official said the provincial government had officially launched a programme last month under which the trips of foreign delegations belonging to Buddhism and Sikhism were being arranged.
“The provincial government is expecting two high-level delegations of the monks from Thailand and South Korea in October and November respectively,” he said.

The first group from Thailand, he said, was likely to arrive by end of the current month while the Pakistani Embassy in Seoul had finalized arrangements for the second delegation of 80 Buddhist monks, led by Ven Wonhaeng, president of the largest Korean Buddhist order.

He said the Department of Archaeology along with the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport would facilitate the delegations to visit the newly developed Buddhist trail.

Last month, he said, a group of Buddhist pilgrims and researchers had visited various Buddhist sites, including Butkara-I, Saidu Sharif Stupa, Jahanabad Buddha in Manglawar, Swat Museum and other places in Barikot tehsil.

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