Hyderabad: Telangana is all set to add a major tourist attraction as Buddha Vanam project, billed as the world's largest Buddhist heritage theme park, is ready for inauguration.
The prestigious project, which is expected to attract international tourists, has come up on 275 acres at Nagarjuna Sagar, one of the country's largest and famous dams and a major tourist centre located about 150 km from Hyderabad.
Said to be first of its kind, Buddha Vanam project showcases a glimpse of the life of Gautam Buddha. It features monasteries, eco-tourism resort, cottages and food courts.
Claimed to be the country's biggest Buddhist circuit, it houses Asia's biggest dome, consisting of a stupa.
The first phase of the Rs 100 crore project has been completed and is ready to be thrown open to people.
According to Telangana Tourism Department officials, the park has been developed as a key destination in the international Buddhist tourism circuit.
It is expected to attract international tourists, especially those Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Thailand, Singapore and other South-East Asian countries.
The project includes eight Buddha Chaithravanams, a Jataka Chakra park, Dhyana Vanam, Miniature Stupa Park, Maha Stupa, a Buddhist Museum, the Acharya Nagarjuna International Higher Buddhist Learning Centre and the Lower Krishna Valley Park.
Historical finds collected from Buddhist sites have also been arranged in Buddha Vanam. The walls of Maha Stupa have intricate carvings which will take one back in time and show glimpses of the life of Buddha.
As Telangana already has rich Buddhist history, the Tourism Department embarked on developing a Buddhist Circuit.
Conceived several years ago, the project was revived when Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao visited Nagarjuna Sagar in 2015 and immediately sanctioned Rs 25 crore for taking up the works.
Tourism Minister V Srinivas Goud had earlier said that the government would also set up a Men-Tsee-Khang, also known as Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute and a Buddhist University near the site.
The project was expected to be opened early this year but outbreak of COVID-19 and lockdown resulted in the delay.
However, Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation (TSTDC) officials said the delay was due to the unique nature of the project and the fine craftsmen it required.
The Tourism Minister reviewed the works on Wednesday and directed officials to ensure that all the works are completed for an early inauguration.
It was not clear when the project will be thrown open and who will inaugurate it. Earlier, the officials had said President Ram Nath Kovind will be invited to inaugurate it.