Bamiyaan like Buddha in Ladakh gets Govt focus

26 December 2009
The Daily Excelsior
Mohinder Verma

JAMMU: The Bamiyaan (in Afghanistan) like huge rock sculpture of Chamba Buddha in Suru Kartse village of Zanskar Sub-Division of Kargil district has invited the attention of State Government which is shortly going to declare it as a protected monument in order to make it a destination for heritage tourism in the Ladakh region. Authoritative sources told EXCELSIOR that Department of Archives, Archaeology and Museums has set in motion a process to declare this 1400 years old huge rock sculpture of Chamba Buddha as State Protected Monument and a notification in this regard is likely shortly. This would be the first ever State Protected Monument in the Ladakh region, which has not received any serious attention so far despite being historically rich area, they said, adding with the declaration as protected monument, this Bamiyaan type huge rock sculpture will not only be protected from any sort of damages but also become an attractive destination for heritage tourism. Located in sparsely populated Suru Kartse village of Sankoo block in Zanskar Sub-Division, the Chamba Buddha is carved on a hillside and is seven meter high and three meter wide. This 7th century rock sculpture is the tallest not only in Jammu and Kashmir but in North India. According to Khurshid Ahmed Qadri, Director General, Archives, Archaeology and Museums, who personally visited the site before initiating process for its declaration as State Protected Monument, this imposing sculpture depicts a standing Chamba Buddha adorned with jewels and a head-dress. On the sides of sculpture even miniature Buddha sculptures have also been carved to make it more attractive, he further said, adding the rock sculpture depicts the execution of early Buddhist art. To a question, he said that on the sides of the sculpture there are numerous holes in the rock which clearly indicates that huge sky-folding was made before the carving of Chamba Buddha and adorn it with jewels. The Chamba Buddha is like Bamiyaan buddha in Bamyan valley in the Hazarajat region of Central Afghanistan which was destroyed in 2001 by the Talibans and it has the potential to become destination for the heritage tourism promotion in the cold desert region. Qadri said that not only this tallest sculpture even some more heritage sites in the Ladakh region will be declared as protected monuments, adding declaration as protected monuments is the first step towards preservation of such sites.