Location: 100 km from Bhubaneswar and 70 km from Cuttack
Highlights: Buddhist shrines and sculptures
Ratnagiri is a splendid Buddhist site that comes under the Jajpur district of Orissa. It is situated at a distance of approximately 100 km from Bhubaneswar and 70 km from Cuttack. The site, situated on a small hill, stands surrounded by rivers from all the sides. As you climb up to Ratnagiri, you will come across magnificent views of vast plains, full of lush greenery. Excavations were carried out at the site and they led to the unearthing of two large monasteries, one of them being Sri Ratnagiri Mahavihara Aryabhikshu Sangha.
This monastery stands adorned with gorgeous doorways, cella sanctum, a huge stupa, Buddhist shrines, sculptures and a massive idol of Lord Buddha. Ratnagiri was one of the first sites to be excavated in India in the period 1957 and 1960. The artifacts and relics found here have been found to be as old as the reign of Narasimha Gupta Baladitya of Gupta dynasty, which dates back to 6th century AD. Initially, the site serves as one of the most prominent centers of the Mahayana sect of Buddhism.
With the advent of 8th and 9th century, the focus shifted to the Tantrik Buddhism or Vajrayana art and philosophy. One can still see a number of sculptural relics on the walls, serving as a proof of the popularity of Vajrayana divinities during that time. As per the Tibetan account of Pag Sam Jon Zang, Ratnagiri contributed to the emergence of Kalachakratantra in the 10th century. As you enter the first monastery of Ratnagiri, you will notice that its walls are adorned with exquisitely carved stone statues of Vajrapani and Lokeshwara.
One can also find sculptures based on the Hindu mythology, in the monastery. There is an isolated chamber inside its complex, in which a 10 ft idol of Lord Buddha, engaged in meditation, has been enshrined. The courtyard has been adorned with a magnificently carved door. There are a number of other fabulous sculptural evidences strewn throughout the monastery. In the second monastery of Ratnagiri, you will come across a life-size granite statue of Lord Buddha. Ratnagiri also boasts of a splendid a Hindu temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna.
The site is known for housing a massive stupa, which stands encircled by a number of small stupas, which were donated by the followers of Buddhist religion. They make Ratnagiri, probably, the only site in India with such a large number of monolithic stupas. Wherever you go in Ratnagiri, you will come across splendid motifs known as Kunjalata and Patralata. These motifs stands as testimony to the cultural transfer taking place at that time. Even the Buddhist sculptures adorning the site reflected the rich art of old times and have contributed to tourism in Ratnagiri.