Karmapa demands free entry to Sarnath for pilgrims in winter - Hindustan Times

Varanasi, March 23 -- The 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje wants the union government to make entry to the key Sarnath sites free for all Buddhist pilgrims in winter.

In an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times at Vajra Vidya Sansthan, the Karmapa, who heads one of the four major schools of Buddhism, said, "Sarnath is a holy place. This is a sacred place for all Buddhist pilgrims. They come here to offer prayers. They don't feel good when they have to pay for visiting certain places here. The centre should make Sarnath ticket-free for the Buddhist pilgrims." At present, tickets have to be bought at nominal rates to visit the Dhamek Stupa, mini zoo and museum at Sarnath.

He explains, "During summer, when the number of Buddhist pilgrims decreases, the government may continue with the ticket system. In winter, there should be no ticket at all because a large number of Buddhist tourists visit the holy place. "

Asked if the centre should declare Sarnath a holy place, he says, "May be, that is well. Everyone visiting this place should recognise it as sacred."

Answering a query on what steps can be taken to check the environmental imbalance, the Karmapa says, "It is a very important issue. Glaciers provide water to millions of people. Environmental imbalance has affected them. To check any further damage, we have taken some very important initiatives."

"Training for monks and nuns is in progress so that they can come to know what step they need to take to stop this environment imbalance. The monks, in turn will tell the locals about the importance of trees and greenery, " the Karmapa said.

"They have to motivate the people to plant trees. I think joint efforts with locals will help in checking the environmental imbalance," the Karmapa added.

Simultaneously, locals in Himalayan regions are needed to motivate for heavy plantation. Monasteries are involved. They themselves plant tree and involve locals in their drive. Same steps are required to be followed in plains. Together efforts are needed to be made.

Representatives of over 55 monasteries from different part of the country and Nepal are attending a conference on ‘Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction’ at Vajra Vidya Sansthan.


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