On a pleasant wind swept morning, I followed the footsteps of the ancient Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang or Xuanzang as he was called and found myself driving towards the Diamond Triangle of Odisha from Bhubaneshwar, a distance of about 100 kms. An ideal day trip from Bhubaneshwar, While there are several ancient temples of Bhubaneshwar that beckon heritage enthusiasts, there are many monasteries and stupas tucked away in Odisha . I am referring to the Buddhist triangle of Odisha – Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri, Udayagiri which are hills filled with ancient archaeological sites excavated rather recently.
Terracotta seals were discovered here bearing the name “ Ratnagiri.” According to historians, Ratnagiri was established around the 5th century by the Gupta kings and the region flourished till the 13th century.
Udayagiri known as Madhavapura Mahavihara was a prominent centre of Buddhism between the 7th and 12th centuries.The name was carved on several seals excavated from here. Walking along a path lined with trees, I see several stupas, monasteries and sculptures from the Buddhist pantheon of deities lying in the open. There is Udayagiri 1 and Udayagiri 2 and I almost lose my way walking amidst the many detours to reach them where you can see the erstwhile ruins of the Buddhist Monastery in Odisha.
Lalitgiri is also believed to be the most sacred among the three sites as it unearthed a massive stupa where a relic of Buddha was discovered – his teeth in the form of a bone inside a stone casket.