Tourists’ activities affecting Golden Pagoda’s sanctity

[ Taba Ajum ]
ITANAGAR, Jan 29: The Golden Pagoda in Namsai, also known as Kongmu Kham in the Tai-Khampti dialect, is emerging as a major tourist attraction in eastern Arunachal.
Though it was opened to the public in 2010, the number of visitors has suddenly increased in the last two years.
Constructed under the aegis of Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, the Golden Pagoda has become a major tourist destination. However, the increase in the number of visitors is creating several troubles for the authorities manning the pagoda.
Scores of tourists, especially from neighbouring Assam, visit the pagoda. With the opening of the Dhola-Sadiya bridge, the number of visitors is only increasing.
The pagoda is home to holy relics from countries like Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. It is a revered site for Buddhists from across the world. Therefore, the authorities are making serious efforts to educate visitors about its significance to the Buddhist community.
“We welcome visitors but expect them to respect the sanctity of the area. Often, tourists litter inside the temple campus. Sometimes they climb onto the statue and click pictures. They do not understand the religious importance of the pagoda for the community, and unknowingly commit the act of disrespecting the holy relics. This has the potential to hurt religious sentiments. So we appeal to visitors to respect the sanctity of the pagoda,” said a religious figure of the Golden Pagoda.
Besides holy relics, the Golden Pagoda houses the 13 feet tall bamboo statue of Lord Buddha. It is believed to be the only bamboo statue of the Buddha in India. Another huge bamboo statue of the Buddha is coming up in the vicinity of the pagoda.
Meanwhile, with the completion of the Bogibeel bridge, the number of visitors is expected to drastically increase. The state government, particularly the Tourism department, will have to take steps to protect the sanctity of the Golden Pagoda.
A large-scale awareness campaign to educate visitors is the need of the hour.