Odisha is renowned for its Buddhist heritage sites within 100 km radius of Bhubaneshwar / Jajpur Road. Buddhist site excavations started in the 1990s and some of the sites were completed in mid-2000s and that gave birth to Buddhist heritage circuit of Orissa comprising Ratnagiri, Pushpagiri, Lalitagiri, and Udayagiri.
1.Shanti Stupa Dhaulagiri.
Dhaulagiri is a historically an important center of Buddhist activities near 8 km south of Bhubaneswar city, on the bank of river Daya. Shanti Stupa Of Dhauligiri has major edicts of great Ashoka, Buddha statue, and an ancient Shiv temple.
Dhauli hill is the area where the Kalinga War was fought.The Rock Edicts found here include Nos. I-X, XIV and two separate Kalinga Edicts. In Kalinga Edict VI, he expresses his concern for the “welfare of the whole world”. The rock-cut elephant above the Edicts is the earliest Buddhist sculpture of Odisha. The stone elephant shows the animal’s foreparts only, though it has a fine sense of form and movement.
The Dhaulagiri hills also have an ancient Shiva temple which is the place for mass gathering during Shiva Ratri Celebrations.
2.UDAYAGIRI & KHANDAGIRI
Khandagiri and Udayagiri Caves are very popular tourist attractions, located near the city of Bhubaneswar in Odisha, India. These caves are naturally beautiful artificial caves.
It has archaeological, historical and religious importance. These two caves are situated on two adjacent hills, Udayagiri and Khandagiri, mentioned as Kumari Parvat in the Hathigumpha inscription. According to history, these caves were carved out as residential blocks for monks of the Jain community during the ruling period of King Kharavela. The word Udayagiri literally means “Sunrise Hill” and the Udayagiri has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves.
Set in the valley of two rivers, Birupa and Chitrotpala, the monastery was discovered by a local British official in 1905. A seven-year excavation of the site by the Archaeological Survey of India beginning in 1985 yielded a number of stone inscriptions, seals, sealing, and potsherds, which established the site as having flourished between 2nd-3rd and 14-15th century AD. It is a popular tourist destination and the pilgrimage site for its enormous brick monasteries.
Ratnagiri (Jewel Mountain) is an excavated area comprising of two quadrangular monasteries, along with the remains of eight temples and about 300 minor stupas. The development of Buddhist art and architecture at Ratnagiri, whose ancient name was Ratnagiri Mahaviharaya Arya Viksu Sangha, took place between 5th century AD and 13th century AD. Most of the sculptures found here date back to 8th and 9th centuries. It was a part of the Puspagiri University, together with Lalitgiri and Udayagiri.
In the year 2010, Dalai Lama inaugurated South Asia’s biggest monastery at Chandragiri near Berhampur. Spread over 10 acres, the monastery houses a 21 feet high idol of Buddha, 17-feet high second Buddha Padma Sambhav and the idol of Avaloketeswara. The foundation stone for the monastery was laid in 2003 and the construction was completed in 2009 at a cost of rupees eight crores.