The Diamond Triangle consisting of the three hills – Ratnagiri ,Lalitgiri& Udaygiri known as RLU Circuit, located 100 kms north east of Bhubaneswar comprises the unique Buddhist monastic complex in the world bearing testimony to the sculptural wealth & architectural grandeur of the great Budhist monuments. Hieun-T’sang, the Chinese pilgrim found it to be the seat of a flourishing Buddhist University called “Pushpagiri”. The landscaped emerald valley of the Diamond Triangle on the bank of river Birupa endowed with small beautiful hills around was the site to the flourishing Budhist sculptural glory for one thousand years spanning from the 3rd century B.C to the 13th century A.D.reaching the crest in the 7th century A.D..The enriched treasure of the monastries,stupas, chaityas ,votives, vihars,statues etc all combine with more
archaeological excavations at Langudi and Kaema presenting Orissa as a magnificent quintessence of Budhist class of art and sculpture influenced by Gandhara and Mathura theological craftsmanship. Kalachakramantra, the Vajrayani tantric cult is said to be originated from here as evident from the numerous votive stupas with reliefs of divinities of the Vajrayan pantheon,inscribed stone slabs and terracotta plaques.
Enroute visit some beautiful roadside villages with traditional paintings.
Day : 01: Arrive at Bhubaneswar by air or rail and transfer to hotel. Afternoon visit temples and caves. Overnight : Bhubaneswar
Day : 2: After early breakfast drive to Buddhist Diamond Triangle. Visit Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udaigiri to witness centuries old Buddhist monuments. Drive back to Bhubaneswar. Overnight : Bhubaneswar.
Day : 03 : Departure
India is a pilgrimage destination for people of all faiths. Situated by the shores of the Bay of Bengal, Orissa from the very beginning has chaperoned the Buddhist pilgrimages. The sculptural and architectural richness of the Buddhist heritage of Orissa, is simply bewitching. The Buddhist religion traces its genesis and foundation, in actual terms, from this very state.
HUNDREDS of thousands of people were massacred when Asoka, the Mauryan emperor of Magadha, invaded and conquered Kalinga (present-day Orissa) in 261 B.C. The vanquished state enslaved the emperor's heart, and he embraced Buddhism after the war. Asoka became a champion of ahimsa, or non-violence, and Kalinga showed the way from war to peace to the world.
“Had there been no Kalinga War and had there been no bloodshed and horrors, Buddhism would not have been a world religion as one today”. It is here on the banks of river Daya near Bhubaneswar, where “Chanda Ashoka” transformed into “Dharma Ashoka”. Ashoka himself deputed learned Buddhist teachers to different parts of India and to the land of the Greeks, Burma, Sri Lanka and far East.”
Asoka did a lot for the spread of Buddhism and thus started a new era of art, education, peace and learning. Modern-day Orissa has inherited the Buddhist heritage that was nurtured by ancient Kalinga, a land as sacred as Lumbini and Sarnath for Buddhists.
Diamond Budhist Triangle: Ratnagiri-Lalitgiri-Udaigiri ( RLU)
One gets transfixed by the remains of the Buddhist monuments in Orissa. The Buddhist tourist trail in the State makes it clear how some of the remarkable places, with so much sculptural value, have withstood the ravages of time.
The Diamond Triangle consisting of the three hills – Ratnagiri ,Lalitgiri& Udaygiri known as RLU Circuit comprise a remarkable Buddhist complex. Hieun-T’sang, the Chinese pilgrim found it to be the seat of a flourishing Buddhist University called “Pushpagiri”. Extensive ruins of brick pagodas, sculpture stone portals and esoteric Buddhist images testifying its ancient glory have been unearthed. Ratnagiri is the gem of this complex. The magnificently carved door jambs of the Vihar and surerbly finished Buddha images from perhaps the greatest concentration of Buddhist sculpture of the post-Gupta period. Ratnagiri is 70 kms, Lalitgiri is 55 kms and Udayagiri is 60 kms from north east of Cuttack
The landscaped emerald valley of Ratnagiri-Lalitgiri-Udaigiri on the bank of river Birupa endowed with small beautiful hills around was the site to the flourishing Budhist sculptural glory for one thousand years spanning from the 3rd century B.C to the 13th century A.D.reaching the crest in the 7th century A.D. when the famous Chinese scholar Hiuen Tsang visited the revered Budhist centers of Orissa.
Hieuen-Tsang, the famous Chinese pilgrim of the seventh century A.D. who visited Orissa, was surprised to see the University of Puspagiri under the Buddhist complex at Ratnagiri-Udayagiri-Lalitgiri. According to him, there were numerous Buddhist monasteries in the region with devoted students.
The enriched treasure of the monastries,stupas, chaityas,votives,vihars,statues etc all combine with more archaeological excavations at Langudi and Kaema presenting Orissa as a magnificent quintessence of Budhist class of art and sculpture influenced by Gandhara and Mathura theological craftsmanship.Kalachakramantra, the Vajrayani tantric cult is said to be originated from here as evident from the numerous votive stupas with reliefs of divinities of the Vajrayan pantheon,inscribed stone slabs and terracotta plaques.
This “troika” forms a great Buddhist seat of study and heritage and belongs to the famed Puspagiri University of ancient times. Extensive ruins of brick pagodas, sculptured stone portals and esoteric Buddhist images sing of its glorious past. The extensive carvings on the doorway of the “Ratnagiri Vihara” is a sight to behold. The Buddhist art from this place is the best in the post – Gupta era.
Located in Jajpur district of Orissa, Ratnagiri lies at a distance of 100 km from Bhubaneswar. Encompassed by rivers in all the directions, this Buddhist heritage site, built in 5 A.D. holds great archaeological significance. A large-scale excavation has unearthed two large monasteries, cella sanctum, a big stupa, Buddhist shrines, sculptures and colossal Buddha.
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.
As Ratnagiri was a flourishing centre of Vajrayana, a Tantric form of Buddhism, the pantheon of Buddhist deities here got wide expression through the medium of stone. Besides the images of the Buddha in various poses, those of Avalokitesvara, Khasarpana Lokesvara, Manjushri and Tara are noteworthy. The colossal head of the Buddha, found in an area adjacent to the site, inspires awe. It is said that Ratnagiri was established as a Buddhist centre from the first half of the sixth century A.D. and Buddhism developed here unhindered up to the 12th 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 artistic adroitness.
Museum timings: 10 am to 5 pm (Friday closed)
The earliest Buddhist complex, dating back to 1 st century A.D., has a huge brick monastery, the remains of a Shaitya hall, a number of enigmatic stupas and a relocated stone Stupa at the apex of a small rugged sand stone hill (Pushpagiri Hill), dominates the rustic greenery around. The aura of Buddhism still shines at Lalitgiri with rock-cut caves, excavated monasteries, viharas, chaityas and sacred relics in terracotta chambers, making it an important junction of the Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udayagiri triangle.
Lalitgiri sings the glory of a past spanning from the third century B.C. to the 15th century B.C. Huge brick monasteries, the remains of a Chaitya hall, a number of votive stupas and a renovated stone stupa at the top of the hill dominate the rural setting. The site museum of the ASI here displays a number of Mahayana sculptures, consisting of life-size figures, most of which have short inscriptions on them.
Hieun Tsang, the famous Chinese globe-trotter of 7th century, was amazed to see the Pushpagiri University under the Buddhist complex at Lalitgiri and its synergism with other places of the triangle. He even wrote of a magnificent stupa on hill top which emitted a brilliant light because of its sacredness. In the 8th century, Lalitgiri became an important center for Tantric Buddhism or the Vajrayana school of art and philosophy
About 5 km from Ratnagiri, is Udayagiri, spread over two locations and the largest Buddhist site in Orissa. While still being unearthed, the foreground is strewn with statues and stupas. Of the statues uncovered, the one of Avalokiteshwara with his long flowing tresses is especially attractive.
Udayagiri is a few kilometres away from Ratnagiri. It has assumed importance after the excavation work, which brought to light a sprawling complex of Buddhist remains consisting of brick monasteries, a brick stupa, rock-cut sculptures and a stepped well with inscriptions.
Langudi Hills: Throws New Light On Budhist Orissa.
Langudi is another newly excavated Buddhist site of a monastery between periods of 3rd Century B C till 10th Century A D. The most interesting attraction of Langudi is rectangular Stupa, rock cut carving of five Dhyani Buddha’s with many votive stupas.
Two rare statues of Ashoka were found and for the first time, an individual statue of King Ashoka has been discovered alongwith inscription. The sculptural representation of the image is in the sitting posture and without a turban or Mukuta. But the Kundala (Earrings), the necklace and auspicious mark on the forehead, reveals a striking royal personage.