The outstanding contributions of Orissa towards the Buddhist culture is uncountable. In past Buddhism occupied a great position in religious history of Orissa. Lord Buddha is rightly said the light of Asia. The relation of Orissa with Buddhism is very ancient. The advent of the religion came about in the most popular form after the Great Kalinga War and the conversion of Ashoka. This marked the growth of Buddhism and export of it to far-eastern and to some south Asian countries. It was Ashoka who sent missionaries to those far off countries like Sinhala (Srilanka), Japan and China for propagation of this religion.
Chinese travelers Fa-Hein and Hiuen Tsang’s account of Buddha in Odisha, the existence of Ashokan and post- Ashokan pillars, bell capitals, copper plates, discovery of Buddhist figures and images speak about the state Buddhism in Odisha.
In a peaceful and serene environment, barely 6 kms from the capital city of Bhubaneswar close to the Bhubaneswar-Puri N.H. NO.-316, lies the great Buddhist shrine of Dhauli, famous for the rock edicts of Asoka. It was here, at the foothills by the side of the river Daya (literary meaning kindness), that the valiant people of Kalinga defended their territory and turned the river water into red with blood. It was here after the Kalinga Victory in the year 261 B.C. that Asoka, the terrible was transformed into Asoka, the compassionate, and championed the cause of Buddhism.
The first specimen of art in stone is found here, in the shaped of the elephant sculpture. It depicts the forepart of an elephant coming out of a cave. The elephant has been carved out of the solid rock atop the face of the inscribed stone at the approach of the hill.
On a slightly higher place, there is the Shanti Stupa (peace pagoda), a 20th century structure of great aesthetic appeal. Built in the early seventies with an active Indo-Japanese collaboration between Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha and Japan Buddha Sangha under the personal supervision of Mahamanya Fuji, head of the Japanese Buddhist faith, this monument of peace stands in the forms of a massive dome with lotus petals as its crown.
90 kms. From Bhubaneswar, nestling on three hills, are the ruins of what must have once been an imposing Buddhist monastery complex called Puspagiri. In fact, it is yet another triangle which constitutes of Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri, amidst the sylvan surroundings of Mahanadi basin, the triangle is supposed to have once constituted the most important seat of Buddhist leanings next only to Taxila and Nalanda. The Chinese traveler, Hiuen Tsang visited this area 639 AD and referred to it as pusi-pokilli (Puspagiri) in his travelogue which embraced all the above three Viharas of Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udayagiri.These three places constitute the Buddhist Triangle of the region, popularly known as the Diamond Triangle of Orissa.
Located nearby the river Birupa, Ratnagiri has a rich concentration of Buddhist antiquities. A large excavation has unearthed Buddhist shrines, large monasteries, a big stupa and a number of vovite stupas. Established way back in 6th century AD., it appears that Buddhism was fostered at this place unhindered up to the 12th century AD. Half a dozen heads of Buddha, two of them in enormous size of four to five feet in circumference are strewn here and there.
Lalitgiri is one of the earliest Buddhist complexes, dating back to the 1st century AD. The huge brick monastery, the remains of a Chaitya Hall, a number of votive stupas and a renovated stone stupa at the top of a rugged standtone hillock dominate the greenery around. The sculpture shed nearby displays excavated images, throwing light on the various schools of Buddhist art.
Nearby Udayagiri is known for its bell-shaped stupa signifying Vajrajana from of Buddhism. Chronologically, this complex came in to being after Ratnagiri and Lalitgiri, flourishing between 7th and 12th century AD. It is located in the basin of a U-shaped hill. The remains suggest the presence of brick monastery, a brick stupa, rock-cut sculptures and a sepped well with an inspiration.
In close proximity lie a few more sites, the most prominent among which is the recently excavated site at Langudi.
Close to Lalitagiri-Ratnagiri-Udayagiri Complex is Langudi, another important site of Buddhism. Recent excavations have unearthed a treasure trove of architecturally and sculpturally rich buddhist remains. They include clusters of rock-cut votive stupas, two unique images of the Buddha and Pancha Dhyani Buddha with their female counterparts, brick cells and brick walls.
Chandragiri with rare scenic beauty, which presents a picturesque landscape, is a paradise for all nature lovers. Surrounded by luxuriant tropical forest, gurgling rivers, exquisite mountain slopes and roaring hilltops this exotic place of Orissa is widely known for the Tibetan refugee colony, where immigrants from Tibet have been rehabilitated. Bestowed with bounties of nature, this place is famous for seasonal fruits, Tibetan woolen garments, carpets and dogs of various breeds. The large scale horticulture plantations as well as cultural activities of the Tibetan refugees make this place more colourful and attractive.
On Wednesday January13,2010 Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama inaugurated a 75ft, five-storey Rigon Thupten Mindolling monastery, billed as one of the biggest in south Asia, at Chandragiri Tibetan settlement in Gajapati district, around 300km from here. Named Padma Sambhav Mahavihara, the colossal monastery — built at a cost of Rs 8 crore and spread over an area of 10 acres — was thrown open after the Dalai Lama conducted consecration ceremony .Nearly 2,500 guests from across the world witnessed the inaugural. Sitting pretty against the backdrop of hills and luxuriant tropical forest, the beautiful monastery greets visitors with colourful flags with dragons and inscribed prayers fluttering in the air.It took more than six years to complete the monastery, the proposal for which was mooted during the Dalai Lama’s visit in 2003-04.
Buddhist Circuit-The Wonder Triangle
- Day01 : Arrive & Half-day city tour of Bhubaneswar-temples
- Day02 : Full day Ratnagiri – Lalitagiri – Udyagiri
- Day03 : Bhubaneswar- Dhauli Ashokan edict, Peace Pagoda & Pipli – Konarak-Sun Temple-Puri. Overnight Puri
- Day04 : Transfer from Puri to Bhubaneswar airport/railway station for onward connection.