The Maharashtra Government is working out a package to woo investors from countries like Japan and South Korea to develop the Buddhist tourism circuit in the state.
“Many of these caves are known to international travelers who visit the Buddhist circuit. But now we will be developing the infrastructure to put them on the global map,” says an official from the state tourism department. So far the government of Maharashtra has identified more than 25 sites which could be opened up to the Buddhist tourist circuit, according to sources. Apart from Aurangabad district, many of them are located in Thane, Pune, Nashik, Raigad and Satara.
Maharashtra’’s tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal told that the state government planned to allot land parcels to countries like Japan, South Korea, Singapore and China to build facilities for their nationals visiting areas of significance to Buddhists in other parts of the country. In the early years of this decade, the state government tied up with the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) to improve infrastructure at Ajanta and Ellora.
According to state government sources, Japan and South Korea have a large number of senior citizens who need monasteries with state-of-the-art infrastructure where they can rest and meditate. The tourism department sees a big market in elderly tourists from these countries.
Officials say the involvement of JICA has helped improve infrastructure and increase the number of tourists visiting Ajanta and Ellora. From around 8,000 people visiting the twin caves earlier this decade, the number of visitors has tripled, say sources. The Maharashtra Government has already got the Union Ministry of Transport to build a highway at Ellora, Ajanta which would help improve connectivity in the coming years.