The Gujarat government is going ahead with a 108-meter tall Buddha statue at Dev ni Mori near Shamlaji, 150 kms north of Ahmedabad. It’ll be the second tallest Budhha statue in the world after the Spring Temple in China (153 meters) — and the tallest of a sitting Buddha, beating a 92-meter statue in Thailand.
A detailed report of the Rs 700-crore project, built around the statue, was presented at Bodh Gaya on September 5 at the International Buddhist Conference where 400 delegates from 26 nations participated. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present as officials of the Gujarat Pavitra Yatradham Vikas Board (GPYVB) laid out the plan for a 100-acre development near the historic site, complete with a stupa, parks, monasteries set up by Buddhist countries from across the world, exhibits, and a library. This was said to be one of Modi’s cherished projects while he was chief minister of Gujarat.
The statue will have Buddha covered by a seven-hooded Mucalinda, the mythological serpent who provided shelter when Buddha was in meditation.
Dev ni Mori was excavated by the state archaeology department in 1953. Dating back to 3rd century AD, the site had a monastery and a stupa. The most important discovery from the site however was a 1,700 year old casket which has bodily relics of Buddha. Kept at MS University at present, a replica of the casket was presented to visiting Chinese president Xi Jinping during his Ahmedabad visit last year.
The expansion plan includes formation of an educational institute on the line of an ancient monastery. Japan and Sri Lanka have shown interest in partnering in the project.
Anil Patel, secretary of GPYVB, said that while the budget is still to be worked out, an architect firm has been finalized and the development is likely to begin in a year’s time. The project is expected to take five years to complete. The GPYVB has signed an MoU with the International Buddhist Confederation for project development.