Ratnagiri, located in Jajpur District of Odisha (Orissa) is well-known for its caves with Buddhist significance. The place has several paramount Buddhist sculptures dotted around in the hill range. From all the directions, the beautiful place is surrounded by rivers – Mahanadi, Brahmani, Kimiria and Birupa.
The history of Ratnagiri dates back to 6th Century AD and relates with the Gupta Dynasty, as the excavations has revealed. Lying 100 km from Bhubaneswar and 70 km from Cuttack, Ratnagiri site, with immense archaeological significance, was first excavated between 1957 and 1960.
The site built during the reign of Narasimha Gupta Baladitya were originally an important center of Mahayana form of Buddhism, and later during 8th and 9th century, it emerged as a major center for Tantrik Buddhism or Vajrayana art and philosophy. The Tibetan Buddhist texts hint that Kalchakrayana also blossomed significantly in this place.
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.
Two large monasteries have also been unearthed by a large-scale excavation. One of these two monasteries have been identified as Sri Ratnagiri Mahavihara Aryabhikshu Sangha which has striking doorways, cella sanctum, a big stupa, Buddhist shrines, sculptures and colossal Buddha.
Grand statues of Vajrapani and Lokeshwara are carved on the walls of the entrance to the first monastery. Moreover, you can find here the sculptures from Hindu mythology as well. The second monastery has treasured a blissful life-size granite statue of Lord Buddha. The site also bears a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.
The motifs, known as Kunjalata and Patralata in Oriya, illustrate the process of cultural transfer and adoption of stuff from Buddhism.
In Ratnagiri, numerous Stupas are present in a big variety, depicting a vivid portrait of Buddhism in ancient India, when it blossomed in its full.