Bhubaneswar is one of the most famous destinations in Odisha. Although it is known as the ‘Temple City’, it is much more than that, starting from architectural marvels to natural beauties. Let’s explore the 5 best Buddhist attractions in Bhubaneswar.
1. Dhauli Giri
Situated near the banks of river Daya near Bhubaneswar, Dhauli is known to have been the silent witness of one of the most flaming wars in annals of Indian history. In 261 B.C the famous Kalinga war is said to have taken place here. The war occurred as Asoka, one of the most valiant emperors of ancient India desired to include Kalinga into his empire. But Kalinga dared to defy the mighty emperor. What ensued was a war that left millions dead on the battlefield. Legend has it that the river Daya turned red as blood of countless warriors spilled on it during the war. Ashoka’s rock edicts are still present here and they depict the teachings of the emperor. Also a Buddhist stupa, known as Shanti Stupa, is located here and it has been constructed by monks from Japan.
Ratnagiri was once an important centre of Mahayana form of Buddhism, situated in the Brahmani and Birupa river valley in the district of Jajpur. The small hill near the village of the same name has rich Buddhist antiquities.
However, during the 8th and 9th century A.D, it became a great centre of Tantrik Buddhism or Vajrayana art and philosophy. Pag Sam Jon Zang, a Tibetan source, indicates that the institution at Ratnagiri played a significant role in the emergence of Kalachakratantra during the 10th century A.D.
The place is located on a small hill top over-looking the vast plains dotted with green hills in the distance. A large-scale excavation has unearthed two large monasteries, one of them identified as Sri Ratnagiri Mahavihara Aryabhikshu Sangha that holds beautiful doorways, a big stupa, Buddhist shrines, sculptures and a massive idol of lord Buddha.
Apart from this one can also find sculptures based on Hindu mythology. Ratnagiri boasts of a splending Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.
Ratnagiri is also famous for its Archaeological museum.
Udayagiri, one of the three major Buddhist attractions of the State, situated in the district of Jajpur, has assumed importance after recent excavations which revealed that the ancient name of the monastery as ‘Madhavapura Mahavihara’. The archaeological remains at Udayagiri consist of a brick stupa, two brick monasteries (one excavated and the other still unexcavated), a beautiful stepped stone well with inscriptions on it, and rock-cut sculptures at the top of the hill behind. Chronologically, the Udayagiri Buddhist Complex is younger than Ratnagiri and Lalitgiri, and is believed to have probably flourished between the 7th and the 12th century A.D.
The earliest Buddhist Complex dating back to the 1st Century AD, Lalitgiri forms an important node of the Diamond Triangle i.e., Lalitgiri (in present Cuttack district) and Ratnagiri and Udayagiri (in present Jajpur district). The majestic ruins of the huge brick monastery, the remains of the Chaitya hall, a number of votive stupas and a renovated stone stupa at the apex of a small rugged sandstone hill dominate the rural greenery around. In addition, the museum displays a large number of Mahayana sculptures consisting of colossal Buddha figures, huge Boddhisattva statues, statues of Tara, Jambhala and others. Interestingly, most of these sculptures contain short inscriptions on them. The Standing Buddha figures, with knee length draperies over the shoulders reminds the influence of the Gandhara and Mathura school of art.
Chandragiri is situated at about 90 km from Paralakhemundi and 15 km from R. Udayagiri. Chandragiri is famous for the Tibetan settlement and for the Buddhist monastery located by the side of it. There is a Buddhist temple which is very attractive with beautiful paintings on the wall. All around the temple there are well maintained gardens.