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Nalanda: Huan Tsang memorial hall inaugurated

February 12, 2007 13:50 IST

The Xuan Zang (Huan Tsang) memorial hall in Bihar's Nalanda was inaugurated on Monday to mark the strengthening of Indo-China cultural friendship. The holy relics of Huan Tsang, 7th century Chinese traveller, will be kept on display for a day at the memorial hall.

Official sources said a 100-member Chinese delegation led by Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, along with Ven Xue Cheng, vice president and secretary general of the Buddhist Association of China and Ye Xiaowen, administrator of the state administration for religious affairs, and a large contingent of Chinese monks attended the inauguration of the memorial hall.

"The Chinese delegation is visiting Nalanda especially for the opening of the memorial hall to strengthen the Indo-China cultural relatioship," director of the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara Ravindra Pant said.

Bihar Governor R S Gavai, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, Union Tourism Minister Ambika Soni and Indian Centre for Cultural Relations Chairman Karan Singh also attended the inaugural function.

The newly renovated memorial hall is built barely half a km from the excavated site of the ancient Nalanda university ruins, about 100 km from Patna.

The hall was constructed in 1960, but was not open to the public all these years. Last year, the Chinese government deputed master craftsmen, architects and designers for restoration and renovation of the hall, including murals and bell pavilion.

Pant said that the memorial hall in Nalanda is set to become a big attraction for domestic and foreign tourists as it displays the life and works of Huan Tsang.

The Union culture ministry has entrusted the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara to develop a cultural village.

Late prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, on behalf of the government of India, received the relics of Huan Tsang from Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama during a function at the Mahavihara along with an endowment for the construction of a Huan Tsang memorial at Nalanda in 1957.

The relics, which were displayed on Monday in the memorial hall in Nalanada, was brought from Patna, where it was kept in the Patna museum.

Pant said the relics will be returned to the musuem in view of inadequate security arrangements.

"Later, the relics will be enshrined in the memorial hall after adequate arrangements are made here," Pant said.

Huan Tsang memorial hall was handed over to the Nava Nalanda Mahavihara in 2001 by the government of India.

Anand Mohan Sahay in Nalanda