A holy and a VVIP tree in Madhya Pradesh costs the state government Rs. 12 lakh annually.
The banyan tree, which is growing merely five kilometers away from the Sanchi Stupa, has a dedicated water tank, four Home Guard security men, a fence for protection and a visit of a Botanist from the agriculture department every week to check on its health.
The tree was planted as a sapling by Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, five years ago. Explaining the reason behind the VVIP treatment of the tree, Bhante Chandaratan from the Mahabodhi Society of India at Sanchi, said,
In the third century BC… a branch of the original Bodhi Tree, under which Lord Buddha found enlightenment, was taken from India to Sri Lanka and planted in Anuradhapura.
This sapling was taken from the part of that holy tree in Sri Lanka and brought to India. Parmeshwar Tiwari, a security guard posted at the site, said,
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I am posted here since September 2012. Four guards are here. Earlier, many people used to come, but now only a few turn up.
The entire hill is being built up as a Buddhist circuit. Sub-Divisional Magistrate Varun Awasthi revealed,
We have provided four guards for security, water. The entire hill has been allocated to the Buddhist University. The whole area is being developed as a Buddhist circuit.
The site where this tree had been planted is a part of Sanchi University’s Buddhist-India Studies which will come up at a cost of Rs. 300 crore. Currently, the university is running in a rented building.