Nagpur: Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Wednesday said the ongoing project to develop Buddhist circuit in the country will be completed by 2020.

He said the project, which will connect the places of importance of Buddha's life, is being carried out at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore.

"A huge number of devotees of Gautam Buddha from across the world visit India. However, due to lack of proper roads, they are not able to visit the Buddhist pilgrimage sites," the Minister for Road Transport and Highways said in a press conference.

Gadkari said that the ministry is developing roads at various places in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar to connect the Buddhist pilgrimage sites, including Vaishali, Patna, Bodh Gaya, Rajgir, Nalanda, Kahalgaon and Vikramshila.

"The Buddhist circuit, which includes places of high significance in Buddhism will be completed by 2020 with an investment of about Rs 10,000 crore," he added.

Construction of roads as part of the Buddhist circuit is currently underway, the senior BJP leader said adding that the project would increase the number of foreign tourists and generate job opportunities.

"Our department has prepared the Buddhist circuit plan that involves three parts- the Buddhist circuit Bihar, Dharmayatra circuit and Extended Dharmayatra circuit," the minister said.

Places where Lord Buddha was born, where he preached, attained Enlightenment and Nirvana are termed as the ‘Buddhist circuit’. In India, Buddhist Circuit is in Bodhgaya, Vaishali and Rajgir in Bihar, Sarnath in Varanasi, Shravasti and Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh.
According to Gadkari, the Buddhist circuit Bihar plan includes Bodh Gaya, Nalanda, Rajgir, Vaishali, Kahalgaon and Patna; the Dharmayatra circuit includes Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar and Piprahwa; while the extended Dharamayatra circuit includes Bodh Gaya, Vikramshila, Sarnath, Kushinagar, Kapilvastu, Sankisa and Piprahwa.

Other Buddhist destinations in India:

Arunachal Pradesh – Bomdila, Tawang
Sikkim – Kalimpong, Rumtek
Jammu and Kashmir – Ladakh, Harwan, Ambarani, Parihaspura
Himachal Pradesh – Spiti, Kinnaur, Dharamshala
Haryana – Stupa at Sugh, Yamunanagar, Asangh (Jind)
Madhya Pradesh – Sardarah, Sanchi, Murakott
Maharashtra – Karala, Ellora, Kanheri, Ajanta Caves, Pitalgora and Nasik Caves
West Bengal – Darjeeling and Kolkata
Andhra Pradesh – Amravati, Salihunda, Borrah Caves and Nagarjunkonda

With agency inputs