As our Indigo airline nosed down to land in Bhubaneswar, I was wide-eyed looking at the vast stretches of green below us. And it is these lush fields that fill my mind anytime I think of Odisha.
Landing in Bhubaneswar
What prompted the visit was our forthcoming travel guide on Buddhist Sites in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. That Odisha had Buddhist sites to write about we weren’t aware of, until the project came along. That, these excavations would be remarkable we had never imagined. However, it stood out as one of the most charming exploration trips we had been on.
Picture this: a verdant landscape of greens – vast, lush fields with low hills in the far distance – within easy accessibility of the capital city, Bhubaneswar… Smooth, narrow roads winding through it… small, occasional hutments on the way… a lone villager herding his cattle… and in the middle of it all, hillocks with remarkable Buddhist treasures dating back to 2,000 years ago…
Smooth tree-lined roads leading to the three Buddhist sites
Lush paddy fields stretching far into the horizon
Exploring the Buddhist site of Langudi
The massive Chaityagriha revealed at Lalitgiri
The three most spectacular Buddhist sites of this region are Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri and Udayagiri, all within an hour’s drive from each other. The extent and marvel of the finds on these hillocks – stupas, monasteries, Buddhist sculptures – has led to their comparison with the famed university of Nalanda, in Bihar.
Votive stupas in Ratnagiri
Sculpture in a monastery in Udayagiri
Climb up to re-live an era long gone. Take in the breathtaking view from the top. Away from the bustle, these hillocks wash over you a sense of calm and peace. No wonder these sites were chosen for the quiet monastic life.
Loose sculptures recovered from Ratnagiri
Bell-shaped stupa in Udayagiri
View from the stupa at Lalitgiri
A pair of goats canoodling in the stupa complex, Ratnagiri
I was never one given to being excited by excavations. Not so far, at least. But the charm of these sites cannot leave one untouched. Visit them and experience it for yourself 🙂
Pick up a copy of our travel guide Buddhist Sites in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to plan your travel.