High Commission of Sri Lanka in India

New Pilgrims' Rest at Sanchi inaugurated PDF Print option in slimbox / lytebox? (info) E-mail

Prime Minster Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka visited Madhya Pradesh in India from 30 October -2 November 2009 to declare open the Sanchi Vandana Niketana which is a pilgrims rest put up for the benefit of Buddhist pilgrims visiting the ancient Buddhist site of Sanchi which had been a sacred place for Buddhists since the time of the Mauryan Emperor, Asoka, in the 3rd Century BC.Sanchi is recognized as a world heritage site by UNESCO because of its historical and archeological significance. Sanchi is important for Buddhists in Sri Lanka as it was from there that Arahat Mahinda Thero embarked on his mission to introduce Buddhism to Sri Lanka.The Stupas at Sanchi had immensely influenced the Buddhist architecture in Sri Lanka in early stage. 

The inauguration of Sanchi Vandana Niketana on 31st October was attended by high level representatives of India, including the Chief Minster of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Sivaraj Singh Chauhan, former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh, and Madhya Pradesh Cultural Minster Shri Laxmikant Sharma, among others. Two Ministers from Sri Lanka, Mr. Dinesh Gunawardane, Minister of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development and Mrs. Sumedha G.Jayasena, Minster of Childcare & Women's Empowerement were among the distinguished guests.   

The land for a Pilgrims Rest close to the famous temples was originally donated to Sri Lanka Buddhists by the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Shri Jawaharlal Nehru. It became necessary to put up a new Pilgrims Rest with modern facilities for the benefit of Buddhists visiting Sanchi. The new Building was setup by the Ministry of Urban Development and Sacred Area Development.

Prime Minister Wickramanayaka in his speech at the opening ceremony explained that Buddhist philosophy did not teach ill will or hatred towards anyone. "The Buddhists envisage a world where everyone irrespective of race, caste or creed could live in peace and harmony as brothers and sisters. It was a basic teaching of Buddhism which believes in ahimsa ,metta and karuna" He further said that Sri Lanka was recently able to overcome a severe terrorist threat after 25 years of bloody conflict which saw the loss of more than 90,000 lives. The Prime Minister gave a pledge on behalf of the government of Sri Lanka that it would continue to further develop facilities at Sanchi which is a world renowned Buddhist pilgrim centre. 

Shri Shivaraj Singh Chauhan, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh recalled the long association between Sri Lanka and Sanchi going back to Asoka's time and Arahat Mahinda.He also mentioned that terrorism had affected many countries including India and Sri Lanka.He congratulated Sri Lanka for its successful fight against the scourge of terrorism. He paid tribute to former Prime Ministers of India, Mrs Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi who were victims of terrorism. He recalled that the death anniversary of Indira Gandhi fell on the same day as the ceremony.