Odisha's unique Buddhist monuments need to be developed as iconic tourist sites

Dhauli hill Buddha statue. Odisha. dhauli.net

The Centre  (Union Government)  presented the annual budget for 2020-21,  and as par of it, it had released a list of 17 sites to be developed as iconic tourist destinations across India, but none from the state of Odisha.
The Sun  temple of Konark in Odisha. known for erotic sculptures of beauty and workmanship, is a world famous tourist site and lots of tourists, in particular, from overseas make a beeline to this place steeped in history.  When the Central Government   had released a list of 17 sites  for  tourism development,  the Odisha government thought the list would include  some other sites.  This popular tourist spot and other equally important sites were not  on the list and they need better upkeep and restoration.  In this regard, the state government was quite upset about the exclusion of some potential spots,   evoking strong resentment from the people of this coastal state.

Colossal Buddha head, in Monastery, Ratnagiri, Odisha en.wikipedia.org.
Above image:  Ratnagiri (meaning "hill of jewels") is the site of a ruined Mahavihara, once the major Buddhist monastery in modern Odisha, India. Located on a hill in between the Brahmani and Birupa rivers in Jajpur district  ,it is close to other Buddhist sites in the area, including Lalitagiri andUdayagiri, and 100 km (62 mi) from the state capital Bhubaneswar.  The Buddhists sites came up  from the 5th century CE onwards, with the last work in the 13th century, and the peak period of work  was between the 7th  to 10th centuries. After the 16th century the site fell into ruins.  ASI' 1960s  excavation  came up large quantities of very fine sculpture (Wikipedia)  .......................................
The visit  of Central tourism  and culture minister to Odisha several months ago  again caused resentment because there was no mention of iconic tourism development here.   The state administration thought at lest one  Buddhist site  would be developed as an  iconic site . It was just quite disappointing one, utter ignorance of  richness of Odiha's culture and heritage.  
The sites announced by the  Union government this year  to be  developed into iconic sites are Rakhigarhi in Haryana, Hastinapur in Uttar Pradesh, Shivsagar in Assam, Dholavira in Gujarat and Aadichanallur in Tamil Nadu.   Four of the five sites are of pre-Christian era except Shivsagar of the medieval period. Not withstanding the facts that  Odisha has some rich and potential archaeological sites like  Dhauli and Khandagiri in Bhubaneswar, Lalitgiri,  Ratnagiri and Udaygiri in Jajpur that date back to pre-Christian era, tragically those have been forgotten.  Odisha chapter of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has also termed omission of heritage sites in the Centre list as unfortunate.

Dhauligiri, Odisha en.wikipedia.org.
Above image:  Dhauli hill is believed tie  the area where the Kalinga War was fought and later Emperor Ashoka, having become sad over the death of thousands of people in the war, became a staunch Buddhist. The Daya river is said to have turned red with the blood of those killed in  the battle, and  this made Ashoka  realize the magnitude of horror associated with war and his folly as a warrior. The Rock Edicts found here include Nos. I-X, XIV and two separate Kalinga Edicts. In Kalinga Edict VI, he expresses his concern for the "welfare of the whole world". The rock-cut elephant above the Edicts is the earliest Buddhist sculpture of Odisha. The stone elephant shows the animal's foreparts only, though it has a fine sense of form and movement.  It is considered as one of the few remains of Mauryan art.  Atop the hill in the 1970s,  a dazzling white peace pagoda was  built by the Japan Buddha Sangha and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha. (wikipedia) .............................................
The State has  proposal  to develop   several sites into iconic ones, including opening  a national tribal museum. Many higher officials  resent the fact that the central government ignores  countless archaeological sites, monuments, natural and ethnic sites having immense tourism potential. Such developments of tourist spots would boost the local economy,

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves,  Odisha, wikipedia org 

Above image:   Close to the city of Bhubaneswar lie rock caves -  Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, (fearlier known as  Kattaka Caves or Cuttack caves,. They are partly natural and partly artificial caves of archaeological, historical and religious importance in Odisha. They are located   on two adjacent hills, Udayagiri and Khandagiri, mentioned as Kumari Parvata in the Hathigumpha inscription. Built in the first BCE, they are  finely and ornately carved caves. These caves were carved out as residential blocks for Jaina monks during the reign of King Kharavela.   Udayagiri means "Sunrise Hill" and has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves. Yhey were dug  out mostly during the reign of Kharavela for the abode of Jaina ascetics. who were on the move.  The most important of this group is Ranigumpha in Udayagiri which is a two story monastery. Other important caves include Hathi gumpha, Ananta gumpha, Ganesha gumpha, Jaya Vijaya gumpha, Mancapuri gumpha,  etc. (Wikipedia)
Sun Temple, Konark, Odisha, indianexpress.com 

Above image:  Konark Sun Temple (Surya Mandira) is a 13th-century CE Sun temple at Konark about 35 kilometres (22 mi) northeast from Puri on the coastline of Odisha, India.  The temple is attributed to king Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty about 1250. It has countless erotic sculptures meticuoulsly carved in stones. Recently, all the images on the tower, etc were carefully clened to extend life o these monumental images that may baffle one's mind. The temple was built with specific plan with highly talented craftsmen. ..................... 
Development of old archaeological sites like Rakhigarhi, Hastinapur, Dholavira and Aadichanallur will help put  India on par with Egypt and Greece heritage sites. But ignoring Odisha by the Union Govt.  where, there are many  centuries old Buddhist sites is deplorable.