Buddhist Sites in Orissa - Devotion and History
Orissa might not have many Buddhist sites, but the few places that are there, hold a very important position in history of Buddhism. Huge excavation projects were launched in areas around Bhubaneswar, which showed few signs of Buddhism. The discoveries that were made told us that Orissa has always been an important Buddhist center. The most important center is Dhauli and the oldest is Lalitgiri. Excavations show that Lalitgiri has been an Buddhist settlement since 1st century making it one of the earliest Buddhist sites in the world. There are many monasteries , stupas and caves as tourist attractions.
Dhauli is the most important Buddhist site in Orissa. Dhauli is famous as the place where the War of Kalinga took place. It is also the place where Emperor Ashoka transformed from a war craving ruler into a peace loving saint. He became one of the most revered idols of compassion and love. Emperor Ashoka took up Buddhism and mastered its principles. Major attraction in Dhauli is the Buddhist peace Pagoda. Built on top of a hill, this Shanti Stupa was built with the help of Japanese. The magnificent white structure is probably the most beautiful sight to behold in Dhauli. Other attraction of Dhauli are Saddharma Vihar Monastery and many Buddhist art forms. Situated just 8 km from Bhubaneswar, Dhauli is easily accessible and also a great excursion spot.
Dating back to 1st century, Lalitgiri is among the oldest Buddhist settlement in the world. Lalitgiri is situated at a distance of 90 Km from the capital city of Bhubaneswar. Here you will find Buddhist caves, stupas and monasteries. All the buildings are still very well preserved and give out an ambiance of bygone era. It is said that the structures here are quite similar to those in Southeast Asian countries. The stupas unearthed contain many relics believed to have belonged to Lord Buddha himself. An apsidal temple has also been discovered. The temple is belted by many stupas and monasteries.
Large stupas and monasteries tell us that Ratnagiri was once an important Buddhist center. Just 18 km from Cuttack, the town turns out to be a great option for day excursion from the city. In recent years, huge excavations were carried out in Ratnagiri leading to many valuable information about the past of the town. Ratnagiri dates back to 6th century, a period of Gupta dynasty. The major find during the excavations was a monastery. It is believed that the monastery belongs to Mahayana sect. The monastery has a huge courtyard and 24 chambers inside the premises. Many stupas and chaityas were also discovered.
Situated close to Ratnagiri and at a distance of 20 Km from Cuttack, Udayagiri is an important Buddhist site in Orissa. Here you will get to see many ancient Buddhist caves. Looking at the structure and inscription on the cave walls, it can be seen that the caves once served as learning centers for Buddhist monks. There are many Buddhist sculptures inside the caves, most of which are of Buddha in meditating positions. The Buddhist monasteries and stupas are also worth a visit. There are few caves on the Udayagiri hills as well that tells us about the rich history of Udayagiri.
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When King Ashoka won the Kalinga war in year 262 BC defeating with unkind and blunt nature. He turned......