(NIE) BHUBANESWAR: While Odisha has world class Buddhist heritage sites, it is yet to find a significant place in the world tourism map. The State Government would soon propose to the Ministry of Civil Aviation for starting direct flights from Bhubaneswar to Colombo in Sri Lanka, Governor SC Jamir said on Friday.
Addressing a seminar on ‘Kalinga-Lanka – Reviving old linkages and exploring new opportunities’ at Utkal University, Jamir said Buddhism became internationally famous after the Kalinga-Ashoka war, following which the great emperor Ashoka shunned violence and adopted peace forever.
“Sri Lanka’s relation with Kalinga (Odisha) has been lost in pages of history. Chronicles and archaeological evidences depict how people of both the regions shared a close link,” Jamir said.
Chief Guest on the occasion, Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to India Esala Weerakoon said the Sri Lankan Government is planning for an MoU between Utkal University and University of Sri Lanka for academic mobility.
“Odisha has a rich Buddhist heritage with sites which could be major attractions for Sri Lankan tourists. A direct flight needs to be started between Colombo and Bhubaneswar,” he added.
Former Indian High Commissioner to USA Lalit Mansingh said while India is Sri Lanka’s trading partner, Odisha has a prominent place in the history of Sri Lanka. There are lots of similarities between Sri Lanka and Odisha in terms of language and culture, and there is a need to strengthen commercial and economic relations.
“If business options are explored between Odisha and Sri Lanka in textile, jewellery and tourism sector, then the island nation and the State could be benefited.
Indian Council for Cultural Relations Deputy Director General Namrata S. Kumar said both the places are culturally rich. “The relationship which started in 1997 needs to be strengthened further,” she said. Among others, Lok Sabha Member Baijayant Panda, School and Mass Education Minister Debi Prasad Mishra, Tourism Minister Ashok Chandra Panda, Chief Secretary GC Pati and former Chief Secretary DP Bagchi were present.