This Hidden Trail In Odisha Will Help You Rediscover The Lost Chapters Of Buddhism

Uncover the symbiotic relationship between culture and religion in this enchanting land.

by Mallika Khurana
This Hidden Trail In Odisha Will Help You Rediscover The Lost Chapters Of Buddhism

In the tranquil heartland of Odisha lies a hidden treasure trove of spirituality and serenity. Here, amidst the verdant landscapes and ancient ruins, whispers of a bygone era resonate with the timeless teachings of Buddhism. Embark with us on a journey through the enigmatic realm of Odisha’s Buddhist heritage, where each monument and relic unveils a tale of peace, enlightenment, and symbiotic cultural exchange. From the echoes of the Kalinga War to the tranquil halls of monasteries, join us as we unravel the captivating saga of Buddhism in Odisha—a land where history intertwines with spirituality, and where every stone whispers ancient wisdom.

Odisha’s Buddhist Trails Lead To Tranquility And Insight

buddhist sites
Photo Credits: Canva

Nestled amidst the tranquil river banks and serene landscapes, Odisha harbours the remnants of its deep-rooted connection with Buddhism, enriching its cultural heritage and leaving an indelible mark on its socio-cultural fabric. From ancient times to the present day, Buddhism has played a significant role in shaping the ethos of this eastern Indian state.

During the 8th to 10th centuries AD, under the reign of the Bhaumakara dynasty, Buddhism flourished as the state religion of Odisha. It’s believed that the first disciples of Lord Buddha, Tapasu and Bhallika, hailed from modern-day Jajpur in Odisha. The patronage of Emperor Ashoka further catalysed Buddhism’s influence in the region. Notably, Odisha’s celebrated poet Jayadeva revered Lord Buddha as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the 12th century AD. The accounts of Chinese traveller Hiuen T’sang add credence to the rich history of Buddhism in Odisha.

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Top Buddhist Sites In Odisha

ratnagiri
Photo Credits: Canva

Dhauligiri

Situated at the site of the historic Kalinga War, Dhauligiri stands as a beacon of peace. The Dhauli Shanti Stupa, erected in 1972 by the Japan Buddha Sangha and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha, symbolizes the transformative power of peace amidst the tumult of war. Surrounding the stupa are serene gardens and sculptures depicting scenes from the life of Buddha, creating an atmosphere conducive to reflection and contemplation.

Lalitgiri

Known as Naltigiri among locals, Lalitgiri is the oldest Buddhist monastery in Odisha, dating back to the 1st century AD. Excavations, based on the accounts of Hiuen T’sang, have revealed its significance in propagating the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana sects of Buddhism. The site’s majestic ruins and museum housing ancient relics offer a glimpse into its illustrious past. The site’s museum showcases an impressive collection of Buddhist artefacts and sculptures.

Udaygiri

Perched amid the foothills of the Eastern Ghats, Udaygiri is renowned for its scenic beauty and archaeological significance. Although less excavated compared to other sites, Udaygiri’s Madhavpura and Simhaprastha Mahavihars offer glimpses into ancient monastic life. Despite the incomplete excavation, Udaygiri’s natural charm makes it a captivating destination.

Ratnagiri

Regarded as a rival to Nalanda in its heyday, Ratnagiri flourished as a seat of Buddhist learning. Excavations between 1975-1983 unveiled its curvilinear roofed monastery and numerous stupas, showcasing its architectural grandeur and scholarly pursuits. The monastery’s intricately carved entrance gate, adorned with mythical figures and motifs, showcases the region’s architectural prowess.

Jirang

Often referred to as Odisha’s Little Tibet, Jirang has served as a haven for Tibetan settlers since 1963. The Padmasambhava Monastery, inaugurated by the Dalai Lama in 2010, stands as a testament to their enduring spiritual legacy. Home to a vibrant community of monks and scholars, the monastery serves as a centre for Buddhist learning.

These sites offer a glimpse into Odisha’s rich Buddhist heritage.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

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