Home > General, Orissa Heritage Sites, Weekend Tour from Kolkata (Calcutta) > Diamond Triangle ~ Buddhist Heritage of Orissa

Diamond Triangle ~ Buddhist Heritage of Orissa

The Diamond Triangle, consisting of the three Buddhist sites of Ratnagiri, Udaygiri & Lalitgiri. Belonging to the Vajyarajyan sect of Buddhism, which is popularly known as the Diamond Vehicle, and hence the name Diamond Triangle.

Rough sketch map of Diamond Triangle.

Rough sketch map of Diamond Triangle.

Visited by the Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang, the centres of learning were at par with their famed counterparts of Nalanda & Taxila.

Located about 100 km North – East of Bhubaneswar the Diamond Triangle, is the most important Buddhist site in Orissa, but sadly it is least promoted.

There are no places to stay or even to eat, but you will have the ruins all to yourself and live up to the famous saying “I am the monarch of all I survey.”

RATNAGIRI

Ratnagiri, true to its name it is indeed a gem. It is the most excavated of the sites and is spread over a hilltop offering grand view of the surrounding. Excavated in 1960s the site yielded two rectangular monasteries and a large stupa surrounded by smaller ones, dating back to the 6 – 12 century AD. Its strategic location protected it from invaders and provided seclusion to the monk.

Left: Stone doorframe & Right: Sculpture

Left: Stone door frame & Right: Sculpture

Entering the complex head straight for the larger monastery approached through an intricately curved door frame, leading on to an open courtyard. On the far end of the courtyard is the inner sanctum housing a giant statue of Buddha, in bhumisparsha posture, flanked on either side by statues of Padmapani and Vajrapani. Entire courtyard is decorated with artifacts collected from the excavation. They include several Buddha heads of different size, several statues and floral & geometrical motifs.

Left: Buddha; Right: Scattred artifacts

Left: Buddha; Right: Scattered artifacts

A small stupa, with giant stupa in background, Ratnagiri.

Stupas, Ratnagiri.

Next to the main monastery lies another monastery, much smaller in size it lacks the beauty and grace of its larger counterpart. Unlike the larger one it’s inner sanctum in empty.

The highest point of the Ratnagiri sight is marked with a giant stupa, surrounded by smaller ones. Some of this smaller (votif) stupas are arranged in circles. The whole hill top contains several structural remains covering a large area.

The hill top also provides a grand view of the surrounding rural Orissa landscape.

Ratnagiri also houses a beautiful museum containing several artifacts recovered from the excavation of Ratnagiri.

UDAYGIRI

Buddha statue at Udaygiri entrance

Buddha statue at Udaygiri entrance

Udaygir, the hill of the rising sun, is the largest of the three archaeological sites of Ratnagiri, Udaygiri & Lalitgiri. Sadly it is the least excavated. Excavation at Udaygiri started in 1960s, and have been carried out in several phases, and continues to this day. The archeological findings are classified in two parts, namely Udaygiri I and Udaygiri II.

A Buddha statue welcomes one to the Udaygiri complex, a tree lined path leads to an open space decorated with Buddha statues and other religious artifacts, excavated from Udaygiri.

Left: Giant Stupa, Udaygiri; Right: Scattered ruins Udaygiri.

Left: Giant Stupa, Udaygiri; Right: Scattered ruins Udaygiri.

Giant Buddha, Udaygiri

Giant Buddha, Udaygiri

Next to the open space is a small step – well, with a long flight of stairs leading to the water bellow. Walking past the well we headed for Udaygiri II. Walk past the scattered ruins, head for the newly excavated monastery of Udaygiri II, housing a collosal Buddha.

Follow a dirt trail leading to the main stupa of Udaygiri, housing four Buddha statues in the four cardinal directions. Walk past the stupa visited the second monastery of Udaygiri, known as Udaygiri I, again housing a giant Buddha statue in a decorated inner sanctum, complete with several other religious statues.

LALITGIRI

Lotus shaped staircase, Lalitgiri

Lotus shaped staircase, Lalitgiri

A newly built Buddhist style gateway on the welcomes one to the Paradeep highway welcomes visitors to Lalitgiri. Lalitgiri is considered the holiest of the three sites of Diamond Triangle, as excavation yielded a casket containing a sacred bone relic, probably of Buddha himself.

The site contains four small monasteries, none matching the grace and beauty of its counterpart in Ratnagiri and Udaygiri. The inner sanctums are empty and are all of them are approached with beautiful lotus shaped staircase.

But the star attraction of Lalitgiri is the U – shaped Chaityagriha, surrounded by votif (small) stupa, which once housed the tooth relic.

Left: Giant stupa, Lalitgiri; Right: U – shaped Chaityagriha

Left: Giant stupa, Lalitgiri; Right: U – shaped Chaityagriha

A 45 step climb takes one to the giant circular stupa of Lalitgiri, which also doubles up as a great view point of lush green rural Orissa.

Reference from my website:

List of Blog entries on Orissa

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  1. April 5, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    Nice shots and great description…

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