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Last Updated: Friday, 21 July 2006, 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK
'Attack' on Buddha's tree probed
By Jyotsna Singh
BBC News, Delhi

The Bodhi tree
The Bodhi tree needed treatment in 2001 (Photo: The Buddhist Channel)
A team of experts is investigating reports that the Bodhi tree where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment has been vandalised.

The tree is at Gaya, in the Indian state of Bihar. Local officials say the reports are "baseless rumour".

The site is seen by Buddhists as the birthplace of their faith.

It is also home to the Mahabodhi temple which was declared a heritage site by the United Nations cultural organisation, Unesco, four years ago.

'Infected'

A team headed by agricultural expert AK Singh has arrived in Gaya, 90 kilometres (62 miles) from the state capital, Patna.

The experts will try to establish whether a branch of the pipal tree was recently cut.

The District Magistrate, Jitendra Srivastava, has already said there has been no attack on the tree.

Temple officials said a branch of the tree had to be chopped off five years ago, when the tree was infected with the milibug disease.

They have published pictures of the tree from 2001, to support their claim.

A member of the Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee, Ram Swaroop Singh told the BBC: "No damage has been done to the holy tree. It is simply a rumour."


SEE ALSO
India 'to build biggest Buddha'
13 Jul 04 |  South Asia
Buddha site celebrates UN status
19 Feb 04 |  South Asia
UN unveils new heritage sites
04 Jul 03 |  In Depth

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