The place is located on a small hill top over-looking the vast plains dotted with green hills in the distance. A large-scale excavation has unearthed two large monasteries, one of them identified as Sri Ratnagiri Mahavihara Aryabhikshu Sangha holds beautiful doorways, cella sanctum, a big stupa, Buddhist shrines, sculptures and colossal Buddha.
The entrance to the first monastery has some splendid carved statues of Vajrapani and Lokeshwara, embellished on its walls. There are sculptures from Hindu mythology as well, which have stood the test of time. The square-shaped inner courtyard effuses a sense of freedom in one's self. The impressive 10 ft effigy of Lord Buddha, engaged in meditation which is placed inside a seclude chamber surely takes a person to divine consciousness. Look out for the exquisitely carved door panel set within the courtyard and other splendid sculptural evidences, scattered all over the complex.
The second monastery cherishes the presence of a blissful life-size granite statue of the Buddha. Interestingly, the site also has a Hindu temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna.
The motifs, called Kunjalata and Patralata in Oriya, are best examples of sublime cultural transfer and adoption of items from Buddhism. The Buddha Sculptures, especially the one in Varada Mudra, surely demands some attention because of their smooth finish and artistic adroitness.
Museum timings: 10 am to 5 pm (Friday closed)
The Diamond Hill of Enlightenment
Ratnagiri of the Birupa river valley in Cuttack district is a famous Buddhist centre. The small hill near the village of the same name has rich Buddhist antiquarian remains. A large-scale excavation has unearthed two large monasteries, a big stupa, Buddhist shrines, sculptures and a large number of votive stupas.
The excavation revealed the establishment of this Buddhist centre at least from the time of the Gupta king 'Narasimha Gupta Baladitya' (first half of the 6th century A.D.). Buddhism had developed at this place unhindered up to the 12th century A.D. in the beginning this was an important centre of Mahayana form of Buddhism. During the 8th & 9th century A.D. this became a great centre of Tantric-Buddhism or 'Vajrayana' art and philosophy.
'Pag- Sam-Jon-Zang', a Tibetan source, indicates that the institution at Ratnagiri played a significant role in the emergence of the 'Kalachakrantra' during the 10th century A.D. this is quite evident from the numerous votive stupas with reliefs of divinities of the Vajrayana pantheon. Separate images of these divinities and inscribed stone slabs and moulded terracotta plaques with 'dharanis' found in the excavation at Ratnagiri.
All these indicate the importance of Ratnagiri as one of the main Buddhist centres of Orissa from very early times. The 'Mahavihara' at Ratnagiri, as revealed from Orissan inscriptions, was a great centre of learning in Buddhist philosophy. Presently this university of Buddhist learning is found in ruins, which attracts scores of visitors every year. For lovers of art and architecture, lay tourists and special groups.
How to reach there:
Air : Bhubaneswar is the nearest airport, connected to most major cities in India.
Rail : Cuttack is the nearest railway station within easy reach, at a distance of 70 km from Ratnagiri and well connected with all major stations across India. However one can even hire a taxi from Bhubaneswar and come over to Ratnagiri.
Road : There are good roads from Cuttack, and direct buses run regularly between the two places