Buddhist Shrines & Jain Monuments in Odisha (Orissa)

Dhauli
Dhauli

Dhauli is located on the bank of river Daya near Bhubaneswar and holds great significance for the followers of Lord Buddha. Dhauli is said to be the witness of the reform of Ashoka's character.

The Daya river is said to have turned red with the blood of the many deceased after the battle and enabled Ashoka to realize the magnitude of horror associated with war. He saw to it that Dhauli became an important center of Buddhist activities. He built several Chaityas, Stupas and Pillars there. He got abodes excavated for the recluse, instructions inscribed for officials, expounded the main principles of dandaniti for the public, provided special status to his new kingdom including the Stupas at Dhauli.

There are two temples at Dhauli. One of Vairangeswar Mahadev and Dhabaleswar Mahadev.

Pushpagiri
Pushpagiri

Built-in the 3rd century CE, Pushpagiri ranks as one of the important institutions of higher learning in ancient India that makes it a popular heritage site in the country. In 639 CE, Xuanzang(Hiuen Tsang) a renowned Chinese traveler, visited Pushpagiri along with Vikramshila, Takshashila and Nalanda. That was the time when he named this place as Pushpagiri Vihara. The Buddhist center of Pushpagiri also has its description in medieval Tibetan texts. The complex of Pushpagiri sprawls over three hilltops(Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri) that include various Stupas, Temples, Monasteries and Sculptures which boasts architecture design from the Gupta Period. However, till 1995, when a professor of local college first visited this place, these ruins were undiscovered.

Lalitgiri
Lalitgiri

This Buddhist heritage site in Odisha dates back to 1st century AD. Lalitgiri is an important part of the Diamond Triangle of Odisha which includes three major ancient Buddhist sites; Ratnagiri and Udayagiri being the other two. In 1937, the central government gave this place the status of a protected monument. The place constitutes Stupas, Monasteries and Buddha images as its main attractions. It is said that Lalitgiri was a prime place of Tantric Buddhism. Some excavations were carried out at Lalitgiri in 1977 by Utkal University. However, the major excavation was carried out by Bhubaneswar Circle of the Archaeological Survey of India between 1985 and 1991 to find the Pushpagiri. Pushpagiri was mentioned in the writings of the Chinese traveler Xuanzang. It was this excavation that officially declared Lalitgiri an ancient Buddhist site in Odisha.

Ratnagiri
Ratnagiri

Ratnagiri in Jajpur district of Odisha is often referred to as the Hill of Jewels. This site is located on an isolated hillock of Asia Range between Birupa and Brahmani rivers. Many Buddhist remains including a massive stupa(Maha Stupa), Monasteries, Temples and Buddhist antiquities―dating from the 5th century to 13th century AD have been excavated from this site. The ruins of the Maha Stupa can be seen atop the hill. The stupa, made of burnt bricks, is surrounded by votive Stupas. Apparently, around 700 votive Stupas have been found from this site during the course of excavations. A mound, locally called Ranipokhari or queen's tank, is located to the north of Maha Stupa.

Udayagiri
Udayagiri

According to historical evidence, Udayagiri was known as “Madhavapura Mahavihara” in ancient times. There are several attractions in Udayagiri, which pull a large number of tourists towards the destination each year. Due to these attractions, Udayagiri tourism has become a preferred choice of devotees of Buddhism. Udayagiri Tour & Travel Guide is really vivid, taking you to the best of the attractions of the destination including Udayagiri hills and Udayagiri Monument, among others. Apart from that, you can find numerous other amazing Tourist Places to Visit in Udayagiri.

Langudi
Langudi

The hill houses a series of rock-cut Buddhist stupas and few Buddhist shrines dated back from early medieval that make it one of the top tourist attractions of the district. The excavation carried out here uncovers two panels of rock-cut caves and Dhyani Buddhas. The first panel dates back from 1st-4th centuries that consists of the series of 34 Stupas. Of these, the center one in the series is the largest stupa flanked by Vidyadharas that tells the specimen of the stunning craftsmanship. However, there is one more feature of the series that include a floral tribute to Stupas. Coming on to the second panel, which traces its history from the 8th-10th centuries, it includes stupas, Buddhas in Dhyani mudras, goddess Tara - the seafaring goddess, Avalokitesvaras - deities of Vajrayana pantheon, Prajnaparamita - the holy mother of all the celestial Dhyani Buddhas.

Tarapur
Tarapur

Tarapur, located in the eastern Indian state of Odisha, is famous for three Stupas(edicts) built by King Asoka. The recent Tarapur excavation has exposed these sculptures. With the excavation, the identification of Kesa Stupa and the donation of Bhikhu Tapusa for constructing Tarapur Stupa have been solved.

Several plain railing pillars and crossbars have also been discovered by the Tarapur excavation. Visitors can spot inscriptions on five of these sculptures - some in Bramhi and others in Proto-Odia and Odia script.

As per the Buddhist text - Anguttara Nikaya, moving towards Madhayadesa, two merchants of Utkala with five hundred trading carts visited the Buddha on the last day of week seven after he got Enlightenment(Bodhi) at Bodhgaya.

Two merchants of Utkal Tapassu and Bhallika became the first lay disciples of Lord Buddha, as per early Vinaya texts. Eight handfuls of his hairs were what Buddha gave them, getting rice cake and honey in return from them. Later on, the merchants deposited the heirs in a stupa(kesa Stupa) in their native place Asitanjana.

The excavations done in Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udayagiri by Archaeological Survey of India revealed the wealthy Odisha Buddhist Heritage related to the early Christian era of 15th-16th century AD. The Kesa Stupa at the Tarapur Buddhist Site is believed to be the first of its type in Buddhism. With the identification of this stupa, it is presumed that Tapassu himself constructed the stupa in the 6th or 5th century BC.

Aragarh
Aragarh

Aragarh, also known as Airagarh, is a Buddhist destination in Odisha, situated north of the river Daya in Godiput-Matiapada panchayat under Delang block. It is a hill located 256 feet above sea level and stretches for over three km from east to west.

Discovery of broken Buddhist icons made of igneous rock and carving of Naga Kanyas and Gaja Sinhas in the four pillars of the temple stand ample testimony of Buddhist memorial. The site is said to be flourished between 1st-2nd BC and 10th-11th AD.

Jaugada
Jaugada

Jaugada Hill or Jatudurga(Lac fort) in Ganjam District is the second place where one of the famous rock edicts of emperor Ashoka is located. Located at a distance of 30 km from Berhampur, Jaugada was also an ancient fortified settlement that had boundary walls with four main gates each. It was a settlement similar to Sisupalgarh in Bhubaneswar. The fort is believed to have been built by Duryodhan. Inside the fort, there are five stone images worshiped in the temple of Gupteswar. The fort of Jaugada was rectangular in shape, the opposite sides being 858 yards by 814 yards respectively. Locals believe the five images represent the five Pandavas. Jaugada Hill, a part of the Malati Range of hills, has a large clean surface of granite where there is an Ashokan edict that provides valuable information about the pattern of administration followed by the Kalingan emperor.

Boudh
Boudh

Dambarugada is a mountain at a distance of 20 km from Boudh town closely associated with the development of Vajrayana, the tantric wing of Buddhism. Many historians give different views regarding the origin and development of Vajrayana. Many views that it was originated at the time of Lord Buddha. According to another sect it was developed in the 8th century AD or during the period of Acharya Indrabhuti(the king of Sambal). Boudh the name itself indicates the close association with Lord Buddha and Buddhist culture. Dambarugada once upon a time was remained nuclear of tantric Buddhism where a number of Buddhist philosophers stayed for a long period to complete their spiritual Sadhanas and composed hundreds of valuable tantric philosophical books. Popularly in their words, they called it the holy land of Tantra, the place of enlightenment Odisha people.

Muchalinda
Muchalinda

Traces its history from Gupta Period, Muchalinda is a Buddha Monastery in Odisha which is located near the confluence of the Magar and Ang Rivers in Gaisilat Block, Padmapur Subdivision in Bargarh district. The statue of Muchalinda was first discovered by an art historian, Charles Fabri in 1961.

This popular heritage site in Odisha was once had a multi-storied structure. But due to brick robbing, most of the foundation plinths have been destroyed. The excavation also discovered the traces of walls of the chambers and cells of the Bhikshus, Chaitya Hall and Mendicants. Along with that, two Buddha idols were also recovered on a small stone called mandapa. These idols include the statues of a Muchalinda Buddha and Buddha at Sarnath while giving the homily.

Kuruma
Kuruma

Kuruma, a small village in Puri, is located at a distance of 8 kilometers to the south-east of the sun temple of Konark. Kuruma is alternatively spelled as Kurum. The place is famous for the ancient Buddhist site. This site was built between the 9th-10th centuries AD.

The place was first located by Shri Barajabandhu Das who was a school teacher. Between the time period of 1971 and 1975, an excavation project was carried out at Kuruma by Odisha State Archaeological department. Before this time period, a stone slab was found here that contained an idol of Lord Buddha in Bhumisparsha Mudra. Apart from this, a couple of more statues were recovered near the pond. The finding of these statues led to the excavation period. It is said that once there existed a Buddhist Monastery which was also referred by Hiuen Tsang.

Khandagiri & Udayagiri
Khandagiri & Udayagiri

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are partly natural and partly artificial caves of archaeological, historical and religious importance near the city of Bhubaneswar in Khordha district of Odisha. The caves are situated on two hills Udayagiri and Khandagiri mentioned as Kumari Parvat in Hathigumpha Inscription and face each other across the road. They have a number of finely and ornately carved caves. It is believed that most of these caves were carved out of huge residential blocks for the Jain monks, during the reign of King Kharavela. Udayagiri meaning Sunrise Hill has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves.

The caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri, called Lena in the inscriptions, were dug out mostly during the reign of Kharavela for the abode of Jaina ascetics. The most important of this group is Ranigumpha in Udayagiri which is a double storeyed monastery.

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