Home > General, Orissa Heritage Sites, Travelogue > Kuruma, a Buddhist site near Konark

Kuruma, a Buddhist site near Konark

Kuruma

A Buddhist archaeological site near Konark Sun Temple

Come summer thousand of Bengali tourists will be packing their backs and heading for their favorite holiday destination of Puri. Many of them will also make a day trip to the nearby Konark Sun Temple.

Kuruma, Buddhist Archaeological Site, near Konakr Sun Temple, Odisha

Kuruma, Buddhist Archaeological Site, near Konakr Sun Temple, Odisha

But unknown to many the trip to the Konark Sun Temple an be clubbed with the visit to the nearby Buddhist Archaeological site of Kuruma. Just 7 km away on the Konark-Kakatpur (Google Map) road is the site where once flourished the Buddhist monastery.

Flight of stairs, Kuruma Buddhist Site, Odisha

Flight of stairs, Kuruma Buddhist Site, Odisha

Orissa or Odisha, the seat of the Kalinga War, is home to several Buddhist sites, the most prominent one is obviously the Diamond Triangle. Sadly it is hardly visited by tourist.

Udaygiri and Khandagiri in the outskirts of Bhubaneshwar are prominent Buddhist sites, visited by large number of tourist (Also see: Bhubaneshwar Buddhist and Jain Heritage)

Apart from the above mentioned prominent Buddhist sites of Odisha there are quiet a few totally unknown sites spread across the state with a large concentration in the Jajpur District. Tarapur (early historic stupa), Langudi Hills (Ashokan stupa), Radhanagar (ancient city), Kayama (rock cut elephant) and Vajragiri (Vajrayan Buddhist site) are some of the lesser known sites from Jajpur district.

Remains of a cell, Kuruma, Odisha

Remains of a cell, Kuruma, Odisha

Kuruma, on the other hand lies in the Puri District and is probably the only Buddhist Monastery, in Odisha,  which is near the coast.

According to legend, in the ancient days the sea waves used to hit the sun temple. Today the sea has moved away. So in the past, Kurma Buddhist Vihar might have been just on the coast.

Unlike Odisha, the neighboring state of, Andhra Pradesh houses several Buddhist sites along the coast of Bay of Bengal, like Tothlakonda and Bavikonda.

It was quiet likely Kuruma was a Buddhist centre frequented by traders coming by the sea route.

We have noticed an interesting aspect of the association of Buddhism with the maritime activities in the past. The traders might be finding it safe and best place to rest after coming from the sea with their goods.

Sunil Patnaik, project coordinator of Buddhist heritage sites Odisha

Flights of stairs, Kuruma Buddhist Site, near Konark, Odisha

Flights of stairs, Kuruma Buddhist Site, near Konark, Odisha

According to historical records Kuruma reached its peak during the 7th and 8th century. It was during this time the famous Chinese traveler Hiuen T’sang, also known as Xuanzang (who traveled in India in 634 – 45 AD), visited Kuruma.

A kulingi inside a chamber, Kuruma

A kulingi inside a chamber, Kuruma

The site measure 34 meter square and there was influence over both the Mahayan and Vajrayan sects in Kuruma.

There are 12 cells for the monks and Buddhist practitioners, court yard and shrine chamber.

Long before the excavation a stone slab containing the beautiful figure of Buddha was lying on the bank of Dharma Pukur (Pukur means pond) in Kuruma village.

A couple of more stone statues were also found near the pond. Later on, this image was replaced and enshrined in a newly built temporary shed. This finds led to the trail excavation by the Orissa State Archeology in 1974 – 75 followed by an full fledged excavation, again by the state archeology, in 1976 – 77.

A stone structure housing the stone statues, Kuruma, near Konark, Odisha

A stone structure housing the stone statues, Kuruma, near Konark, Odisha

Apart from the structure of 12 cells three ovens, rectangular in shape were discovered in the ground level. The discovery of such ovens in one place probably indicates the habitation area of the concerned period. The antiquities recovered are mainly pottery of red ware and beads.

Stone statue of Yama

Stone statue of Yama

Stone statue of Buddha

Stone statue of Buddha

Today the ruins of Kuruma are located next to a cyclone centre and the Dharma Pukar still exists.

Although located 7 km from the famous Sun Temple of Konark there are no public transport.

So if you are staying in Puri it is best to club Kuruma with the Konark Sun Temple visit and its best to book your car from Puri.

Today the site is not very well maintained and portions of it are overgrown with vegetation. The locals use the site as storage of hay and cow dung, making some portions almost inaccessible.

A newly built temple like stone structure, on one corner of the site, houses the Buddha statue, along with a few other statues. All the statues have been found from nearby area long before the excavation of Kuruma and have recently been given a permanent home.

A centre is the statue if Buddha complete with a decorative crown. It is chiseled out of a single piece of rock and follows the bhumisparsha mudra. Even after centuries of neglect it still maintains its beauty and grace.

Portion of the Kuruma Buddhist Vihar with cow dung cakes and hay stacks, Odisha

Portion of the Kuruma Buddhist Vihar with cow dung cakes and hay stacks, Odisha

On the right is the a strange statue with multiple heads and limbs. Locals who follow Hindu rituals, believed it to be a statue of Yama, the God of death. But experts believ it to be of Yamataka, Yama’s equivalent in tantric Buddhism. Sadly this beautiful statue has lost most of its intricacy and elegance. On the left are two small statues of Vajrayan deities Heruka and Dharma.

Getting There (Google Map):

  1. Staying at Konarak: If you are staying in Konark, book a auto for the Kuruma trip
  2. Staying at Puri: If you are staying at Puri it is best to club Kuruma with the Konark Sun Temple. Also the Konarak Sun Temple host a light and sound show in the evening (entry at 7:30 pm and show time 8 – 8:40 pm, show in Hindi, Odiya and English, ticket Rs50)

 

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  1. Prakash Nayak
    June 6, 2018 at 1:11 PM

    Thanks Rangan once again for focussing on Buddhist Heritage of Odisha. Like Kuruma, there are isolated patches of Buddhist sites spread over the state. It needs more exploration by the government and concerned agencies.

    • June 6, 2018 at 3:19 PM

      Thanks Prakash for the comment. I definitely need your help to explore the other lesser known Buddhist sites of Odisha.

  2. June 7, 2018 at 11:52 AM

    can u tell me how to reach konark from delhi?

    • June 7, 2018 at 11:55 AM

      Bhubaneshwar is well connected from Delhi both by air and rail. Konark is 30 km from Bhubaneshwar and have regular buses.

  3. June 11, 2018 at 12:14 PM

    I have visited Kuruma and adjoining sites like Barahi Temple and Astaranga beach in 2015. There was no temple or shade on the Buddha statue in 2015.

    Please check https://amitavadgupta.wordpress.com/2015/08/02/around-konark-off-the-popular-trail/

    • June 21, 2018 at 9:42 AM

      Thanks Amitava for the informative blog post. Yes the temple like structure in Kurum came up in 2017.

      Really enjoyed reading your blog post, the ancient temple at Chaurasi looked great. Never knew about it, will visit it during my next trip. Thanks once more.

  4. February 5, 2019 at 2:55 PM

    Thanks for Your Helpful Tips for Konark SunTemple. It Will help Them who are Looking for a best Package from Puri Ya Bhubaneswar To Konark Sun Temple. Konark Sun Temple is one of the most visited tourist places in Odisha.
    Visit http://travelhelp.co/holiday/ for a best tour package to Konark Sun Temple(Odisha Tour Package)
    Thanks a Lot….Keep sharing

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