Major Attractions for Buddhist Pilgrimages Odisha
Located in the Birupa river valley in the district of Jajpur, Ratnagiri is a renowned Buddhist centre. You can find several wealthy Buddhist antiquities at the small hill near the village of Ratnagiri. With a large-scale excavation, two large monasteries, a big stupa, Buddhist shrines, sculptures and a large number of votive stupas have been unearthed. Sacred Relic Casket are preserved at the Odisha State Museum in Ratnagiri.
The history of Ratnagiri dates back to 6th Century AD and relates with the Gupta Dynasty, as the excavations has revealed. The excavation of a huge monastery at Ratnagiri has revealed that it is related to the Mahayana sect, and the kings like Ashoka and other of the Gupta dynasty spread Buddhism in the region. You can see here many other clues of Buddhist origin, like the Monastery, Stupas, Chaityas, among others. Ratnagiri is also considered to be a great place of learning for the Budhism of Tantric cult, known as Vajrayana. The Tibetan Buddhist texts hint that Kalchakrayana also blossomed significantly in this place.
In the Jajpur district, Udayagiri has recorded its significance in Buddhism after recent excavations revealing the ancient name of the monastery as Madhavapura Mahavihara. A brick monastery with a number of Buddhist sculptures has also been unearthed by an excavation.
Lalitgiri, also known as Naltigiri, is the 1st century Buddhist complex in Orissa, having numerous superb sculptures of that age – like significant stupas and monasteries (viharas). Sacred Relic Casket preserved at the Odisha State Museum in Ratnagiri were excavated from Lalitgiri.
Dhauligiri or Dhauli
Lying 8 km from Bhuabneswar, Dauli looks down on the plains that that tells the history of the great Indian king Ashoka who turned to non-violation, adapting Buddhism, after having a bloodbath in Kalinga. The major attractions of Dhauli Hills is Kalinga-the Asoka War Memorial (Shanti Stupa or Black Pagoda) which was built jointly in 1972 by the Japan Buddha Sangh and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangh. Other attractions you can find here is the Rock Edicts of Asoka at Dhauligiri.
Langudi Hills, low hills about 90 km from the Mahanadi delta in Jajpur and Cuttack districts in Odisha, is the spot for Kesa Stupa and several other Ashokan stupas.
Tarapur, located in East Indian state of Orissa, possesses three stupas (edicts) set up by King Asoka. The sculptures have been recently explored during Tarapur excavation. The excavation has answered the identification of ‘Kesa Stupa’ and the donation of ‘Bhikhu Tapusa’ for making Tarapur Stupa.
The twin hills, known as Deuli Hills, hold the biggest range of rock cut caves concentrated here. The ruins of a marvelous stupa and several laterite blocks, bricks, brickbats and pottery are found atop the Deuli hill. The ancient staircase leading the stupa can be viewed from the eastern side.
You can find an elephant shaped rock cut at the Kayama Hill. The name of one of Ashoka’s brothers – ‘Tisa’ is inscribed on a rock cut bench, north of the Kayama elephant. This firmly indicates a close relation of Ashoka’s brother Tisa with Kalinga.
An ancient royal city Radhanagar, a well-designed city, bears mud rampart just like other ancient cities in India. As per a number of inscriptions found during recent Radhanagar excavation and other corroborative evidences say Radhanagar was the capital city of ‘Tosali’, Kalinga’s royal headquarters during Asokan period.