Ratnagiri Buddhist Heritage Site
Located in Jajpur district of Orissa,
Ratnagiri lies at a distance of 100 km from Bhubaneswar and 70 km from
Cuttack. Encompassed by rivers in all the directions, this Buddhist
heritage site, built in 5 A.D. holds great archaeological
significance. 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 holds beautiful
doorways, cella sanctum, a big stupa, Buddhist shrines, sculptures and
The Ratnagiri site, the first to be excavated between 1957 and 1960,
dates back to the first half of 6th century B.C. during the reign of
Narasimha Gupta Baladitya of Gupta dynasty. Originally, it was an
important center of Mahayana form of Buddhism, while later during 8th
and 9th century, it became a great center for Tantrik Buddhism or
Vajrayana art and philosophy. Several sculptural relics on the walls
of the pantheon envisages the prevalence of Vajrayana divinities at
that time. Pag Sam Jon Zang, a Tibetan account, indicates that the
institution at Ratnagiri also played a significant role in the
emergence of Kalachakratantra during the 10th century A.D.
The entrance to the first monastery has some splendid carved statues
of Vajrapani and Lokeshwara, embellished on its walls. There are
sculptures from Hindu mythology as well, which have stood the test of
time. The square-shaped inner courtyard effuses a sense of freedom in
one's self. The impressive 10 ft effigy of Lord Buddha, engaged in
meditation which is placed inside a seclude chamber surely takes a
person to divine consciousness. Look out for the exquisitely carved
door panel set within the courtyard and other splendid sculptural
evidences, scattered all over the complex.
The second monastery cherishes the presence of a blissful life-size
granite statue of the Buddha. Interestingly, the site also has a Hindu
temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna.
The motifs, called Kunjalata and Patralata in Oriya, are best
examples of sublime cultural transfer and adoption of items from
Buddhism. The Buddha Sculptures, especially the one in Varada Mudra,
surely demands some attention because of their smooth finish and
Museum timings: 10 am to 5 pm (Friday closed)
¤ How to Get There
Air : Bhubaneswar is the
nearest airport, connected to most major cities in India.
Rail : Cuttack is the nearest railway station within easy
reach, at a distance of 70 km from Ratnagiri and well connected with
all major stations across India. However one can even hire a taxi from
Bhubaneswar and come over to Ratnagiri.
Road : There are good roads from Cuttack, and direct buses run
regularly between the two places.