The soul of incredible India is depicted in the greenery and ancient history of Odisha.Many towns in odisha do depict that through their rich history and geography. Among such many towns Jajpur is an important industrial district headquarter in odisha, which besides having vast amount of mineral is also rich in ancient history that dates back to the first century A.D.Whenever I travel to the Diamond Triangle in Jajpur,I stop my car into the junction point where the signboard indicates a diversion road to Lalitagiri and Udayagiri.
Every time I come here the place is so refreshingly green.The mountains are full of vegetation sheltering the vast stretches of paddy fields.The palm trees with the mud houses give us the relevant feeling of the countryside.
It is very important to mention that each of the three excavation sites has been found on top of hills .Besides providing a panoramic view of the valley, the hills also provide a sense of isolation important for meditation .Perhaps that may be the reason why the buddhists chose to settle down in these places.
Just before the junction point of the three buddhist towns we cross a bridge over the river which is the source of the fertile lands in this iron ore rich district. Infact the whole road trip is accompanied by vast stretches of farm lands that lies under this iron ore rich mountains.It is obvious enough that a traveller can imbibe rich indian history amidst picturesque villages while visiting the diamond triangle in odisha.
As we enter the Buddhist excavation site of Udayagiri, the tourist spot welcomes us with a huge park made for the visitors to enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding mountains .The excavation site however lies 500 metres away on the top of a hill.The park is surrounded by the mountains which are covered with green vegetation.Perhaps those mountains still holds much undiscovered civilizations of ancient India.
Park at the entrance
The diamond triangle of odisha consists of the three excavated towns of ratnagiri, lalitagiri and udayagiri. The history of jajpur district in odisha dates back to pre-Mauryan empire that is preserved in the diamond triangle of odisha. The history dates back to the early first century till twelfth century A.D. when buddhism flourished here in odisha. The remnants have only been discovered recently in the 1960s by the Archeological Society Of India.From the excavations it was clear that architecture and art flourished in this era that included the Gupta and the maurya dynasties .Like in this picture which is about an excavated site in udayagiri, large stupas and statues of Buddha reveals the tantric customs practised by the monks of that period.While the first picture signifies the votives and stupas excavated from the site the second picture indicates the excavation pathway discovered by the archaeologists in early 1920 s.
Stupas excavated from udayagiri
Excavated pathway in udayagiri
The excavated stupas and the first monastery in udayagiri surrounded by hills.
The above three pictures contain the remains of the statues discovered while excavating ratnagiri, The details of which can be found in a museum in Ratnagiri.
Udayagiri has a shrine complex and two monasteries at the hilltop.Besides the buddhist excavated sites what amazed me was local hindu temples within the designated area.At the starting point of the trek to the hill top there was a local hindu temple which mostly remains empty waiting for pilgrims to find peace and solace within religion. At the top just at the starting point of the excavated site there is another hindu temple ,the site of which provides a perfect alluring match of two intellectual religion providing the means to Moksha. It proves people living here still take various forms of religion as meditation.
The two hindu temples at the excavated site of udayagiri
The Buddha statue inside the shrine complex resembles a mystic form that transports us to a fairly world of meditation and salvation.The temple and the excavated site were fitting perfectly surrounded by the magnificent hill.While the second monastery is like a huge open hall surrounded by richly crafted sculptures .
Buddhism is the door to compassion and enlightenment.According to Sadhguru buddhism is derived from the great yogi Shiva i.e to become the most enlightened one which can be achieved through conscience. Infact conscience is the only element that makes the human beings the greatest species on this planet….
My next destination was ratnagiri which is a half an hour drive from the excavated udayagiri site.As soon as I reached the museum on the ratnagiri site to do my homework it started to rain which was a respite from the intense heat.
For any anxious traveller coming to Ratnagiri ,which is the biggest excavated site of buddhism during the early 1st century in India,through the structures and art one gets to know the divine conscience that existed among the human beings who dedicated their life in serving the society as monks. Infact the three buddhist excavated sites in odisha are situated on top of hills to isolate itself from the civilization. From the sculptures and the stupas we derive the fact of tantric buddhism that flourished in India in the pre Gupta and Mauryan period.
Excavated main entry of the Ratnagiri site.
The numerous votive stupas and the seals discovered prove the fact of “kalachakra tantra” that was practiced in that period.It was one of the form of the Vajarayana buddhism which explains how events in life modify a soul to attain the conscience of Buddha.A museum has now been built by the Archaeological society of India which depicts the facts of Buddhism that was practiced during that era.
The small and large votives of Ratnagiri site
During 1st till 12th century Ratnagiri became a major place of tantric buddhism like that of Nalanda in bihar. The secluded area ,surrounded by the Eastern Ghats and the Birupa and Brahamini river valley provides a magnificent view of the entire valley.The main monastery contains a carved out statue of buddha surrounded with numerous cells where the monks were believed to have done their meditation.Visit this magnificent historical place in incredible Odisha to enlighten your knowledge of early Indian culture.
The huge stupa in Ratnagiri
Elegant structure of stone inside the Ratnagiri monastery
My third destination was Lalitagiri which was a 45 minutes drive from udayagiri. It is situated on the other side of the two excavated sites ,which we can reach through the canal road that bifurcates the village into two local towns.The road was quite narrow passing through local shops and busy commuters ,sometimes giving glimpses of cultivated fields of golden crops .When I reached lalitagiri it was already dark in the evening so I did not get much to explore.I found two monasteries inside the complex and a under construction museum being build by the archaeological survey of India, to illustrate the excavated works of the ancient buddhist period.The first monastery was like a rectangular structure with two pillars in the entrance marked by patterns of lotus petals on the floor.The middle portion of the monastery was surrounded by rectangular brick walls with circular patterns on its surface.
The second monastery was situated on the eastern side on the top of a hill.It was under renovation so I did not get much to understand.From the museum executives I found out that lalitagiri together with ratnagiri and udayagiri was considered to be the part of Pushpagiri university in the early century of India.Infact from lalitagiri excavation site we come to know that from 3 rd to 4 th century A.D lalitagiri showed unbroken presence of buddhism.
History is always important for us.Through history we shape our culture and behaviours for the future.For a traveller a historical place brings in the rich knowledge of our ancient culture but when it arrives with a beautiful landscape the trip becomes quite narrative.Visit the buddhist excavated sites in jajpur to write down a delightful narrative of our country’s ancient culture………………………………………….