Buddhist Spots in Odisha – Meant To Be Enlightened
Posted on August 2, 2017
Buddhism is one of the major religions of the world and is prevailing in quite a number of countries. Where Buddhism is talked about, name of Odisha is certainly one of the leads. Having embraced the wealthy Buddhist custom from the 6th century BC, Odisha has its share of countless Buddhist sites spotted across every corners of the state.
The majority of the sacred Buddhist sites in Odisha have been excavated in recent times and are basically unexplored. So far, more than 200 Buddhist sites, scattered across the length and breadth of the state, were revealed by these archaeological excavations. These sites consist of a series of monasteries, temples, shrines, stupas, and beautiful sculptures of Buddhist images. Their rural setting, amongst fertile hills and paddy fields, is both striking and peaceful.
Here is some information gathered on some of the prominent Buddhist pilgrimages in Odisha
Down the Puri – Konark Highway and on the banks of Daya River stands the significant Dhauli hill also famous for its Buddhist monuments. It happens to be the place where the bloodiest of battles were fought and won by Emperor Ashoka. This monument marked his transformation from an ambitious king of a prospering kingdom to a follower of Buddha and his teaching. He renounced violence in favour of peace and carved out 13 edicts in the rocks with sculptued elephant at the top which is the universal symbol of Budddhism. A Peace pagoda or Shanti Stupa lies further up the hill. The Shiva Temple, situated in the Dhauligiri hills, is the place for the mass gathering for the celebrations of Shiva Ratri. To attract more tourists to the peace pagoda at Dhauli, the state tourism department organises a 35 minutes light and sound show at this historic place.
Set in the valley of two rivers, Birupa and Chitrotpala, the monastery was discovered by a local British official in 1905. It is a popular tourist destination and pilgrimage site for its enormous brick monasteries. The major Buddhist attractions found here are the remains of the chaitya hall, the leftovers of a large brick monastery, a renovated stone stupa and a number of votive stupas at the top of a small rocky sandstone hill. In addition to that, there is also a museum that exhibits numerous Mahayana sculptures including colossal Buddha figures, statues of Tara, Jambhala, huge Boddhisattva statues and many more.
Also, what is exciting is that most of these sculptures have brief inscriptions on them. There is a figure of Standing Buddha with knee length draperies over the shoulders.
Well recognised as “Hill of Jewels”, has the most extensive Buddhist ruins in Odisha and is of great importance as a Buddhist site both for its magnificent sculptures and as a centre for Buddhist teachings. The massive stone sculptures of Lord Buddha’s head at Ratnagiri are particularly overwhelming. Ratnagiri in the Birupa river valley in Jajpur district, have so far been the richest in terms of cultural treasures being excavated. The discoveries at this point include two large monasteries, a large stupa and numerous votive stupas that specify towards the powerful impact of Buddhism
Udayagiri, also known as “Sunrise Hill”, is home to another large Buddhist complex in Odisha. Udaigiri is located around 100 km from Bhubaneswar and 20 km from Cuttack. It consists of a brick stupa, two brick monasteries, a stepped stone well with inscriptions on it, and numerous rock-cut Buddhist sculptures. Another attraction at Udayagiri is a gallery of Buddhist rock-cut image, overlooking the Birupa River below. There are five images consisting of a standing life-size Boddhisattva, a standing Buddha, a goddess seated over a stupa, one more standing Boddhisattva, and a seated Boddhisattva.
The Udayagiri site promises additional treasures, as there’s still more to excavate.
Moreover, there are some which not only have the largest concentration of Buddhist remains but are also a must-visit for instant enlightenment. Padmapur, Balasore District, Banpur, Kuruma, Biswanath Hill, Jaugada, Sambalpur District, Naraj, Khandagiri and Chandragiri are several other Buddhist places in Odisha.