Heritage in Orissa is remarkable for its rich
architectural remains and sculptural wealth.
The great Kalinga war, which transformed Asoka
into a devout Buddhist and a great champion
of Buddhism, had been fought on the Orissan
soil on the banks of the river Daya, not far
from the temple city of Bhubaneswar. From here
the light of Buddhism radiated to different
Far Eastern countries like China and Japan.
It is here that the foundation of a great religion
and culture was laid. Orissa held the torch
of peace and non-violence (Dhamn-ta) to the
whole world. This great transformation which
literally changed the whole world could be felt
and experienced when one walks through the vistas
of Buddhism in Orissa.
As a testimony
to this great transformation we have the famous
major rock-edicts of Asoka at Dhauli near Bhubaneswar
and Jaugada in Ganjam district. Through the
years, from the 3rd century B.C., Orissa had
nurtured a number of Buddhist centres of learning,
art and establishments in several places which
flourished up to the 1 2th 13th century A.D.
In fact, these places of Buddhist interest had
been a great source of attraction to outside
visitors from as early as the 7th century. The
famous Chinese traveller Hiuen T'sang had visited
the Buddhist centres in Orissa in the 7th century
Orissa is almost
littered with several Buddhist centres of art
and leaming. Lalitagiri, Udayagiri and Ratnagiri
in Cuttack district on the banks of river Birupa
is the most opulent Buddhist site (the mini
goldon triangle of Orissa Tourism). Besides
places like Khiching in Mayurbhanj district;
Ayodhya, Solampur, Kupari and Khadipada in Balasore
district; Rameswar, Banesvaranasi, Brahmavana
near Salipur, Choudwar and Prachi Valley in
Cuttack district; Boudh town, Baliguda area,
Paragalpur and Shyamsundarpur of Phulbani district;
Banpur, Aragada, Bhubaneswar and Kunima of Puri
district; and Ganiapalli of Sambalpur district
have great potentiality from ' the Buddhist-Touiist-Centre.
point of view.
places have vestiges of rich sculptural art
of both Mahayanic and Vajrayanic pantheon. In
addition these places have beautifully laid
out Buddhist viharas, stupas and chaityas. The'
,recent discovery of sacred relic's in caskets
at the Lalitagiri excavation site have added
to the importance of the Buddhist sites in Orissa.
The recent archaeological excavations at Ratnagiri,
Udayagiri, Lalitagiri, Brahmavana, Kuruma etc.
have added new dimensions to the Buddhist establishments
in Orissa. The Tantric-Vajrayana range of sculptures
from Orissa are unique for their novel concept,
fine execution and sensitive modelling and their
only parallels could be found in the Buddhist
art from Tibet, Nepal and China.