April 12, 2015

The Lap of Buddhism - Ratnagiri - Traveller's Paradise!

I am hereby redeeming a promise I had made to all my readers in one of my previous posts,i.e. to write in detail about each of the Buddhist places in the 'Diamond Triangle' of Odisha. So here goes the first exclusive write-up on the exquisitely beautiful Ratnagiri!

Being an esteemed part of 3rd International Buddhist Conference at Bhubaneswar has been a life-changing experience for me. The second day of Conference was a site-visit to the 'Diamond Triangle' of Odisha. Ratnagiri was the second destination in our Buddhist trail, after Lalitgiri.

Location: Ratnagiri is in Jajpur District, only about 100 km from Odisha's capital- the splendid Temple City of Bhubaneswar. You can reach at Biju Pattnaik International Airport or Bhubaneswar Railway Station, and head to Ratnagiri by extremely well-connected roads- can reach within 2 hours easily!

2nd Bus carrying Delegates of Buddhist Conference to Ratnagiri. Buses were parked about 1.5 km away from main site, as road is narrow for big buses. Later mini bus of OTDC took us to the exact site of Ratnagiri!

Literally meaning, 'Hill of Jewels' this site is lined with breathtakingly beautiful votive stupas and monasteries dating between 5th Century AD to 13th Century AD.

Ratnagiri is an adorable, lush green hill site! You have to walk up the steps to give a treat to your eyes with the first awesome sight...the Votive Stupas!
Votive Stupas at Ratnagiri date b/n 8th-11th Century AD!

Over a hundred small stupas, called 'Votive Stupas' is the first stunning sight you will encounter!

This large number of monolithic Votive Stupas are comparable to those at Bodh Gaya. Votive Stupas are constructed to commemorate visits or to gain spiritual benefits, usually at the site of prominent stupas which are regularly visited.

Next we trekked about 100 metres further up to reach the grand site- Monastery 1 with the beautifully carved ornamental gateway! Absolutely took my breath away! I got that photo clicked which I had been dreaming of ever since I knew of the existence of such an exquisite gate!

Magnificent sculptures lined the left of above entrance such as:

Padmapani is seen at the back....Both Padmapani and Vajrapani (right side of gate) are Boddhisattvas guarding Buddha

When you enter through the gate, it is a whole new world! There are mammoth Buddha Faces as statues. Numerous faces of Boddhisattvas and others are also carved. Take a look:

Exquisite Statues as you enter through the gateway towards immediate left and right!

Tens of small and big statues line the monastery...this is at the left end as you enter the gateway..
And now comes my favorite part! The beautifully carved prayer gateway held me spellbound! It is richly carved with six small three-sided rooms where monks can get in to pray. Each such open room is just enough to hold one person. The sunrays fall at beautiful angles here. Just awesome!

My favorite moments were when the monks accompanying us actually lined up there. It was a most rare sight. Catch the awesomeness here!

The final spot in Monastery 1 where I spent a lot of time is the central shrine in the rear end. It has a massive seated image of the Buddha in Bhumisparsa Mudra flanked by the standing figures of the two Boddhisattvas- Padmapani and Vajrapani. There is so much peace in this small room. It is so cool, as if an AC is on. A lot of monks had accompanied us as part of the Conference. It was absolute peace listening to them chant. I even took a video of them chanting so I could spread peace forever in hearts of whoever listened to them...ever...

The monks told me that there were secret pathways at the two sides, which were now closed. Catch them praying and one of them prostrating even at the secret doorway at the left side of the main statues.

And so, after all the peaceful and rejuvenating experiences at the central shrine, we were being called back to head for lunch. So, I missed seeing Monasteries 2 and 3 as well as eight brick temples representing typical Odishan Temple Architecture datable to 9th-10th Century AD. I also missed seeing the awesome Ratnagiri Museum. Anyway, it is good missing things- then you can go back again and again in your wanderlust! :)

As I was going away from this spellbinding Monastery 1, I took some last pictures of the exquisite place:

Vasundhara...holds wheat in her hands

Way to Museum!

Ratnagiri Museum looks like this from outside! A must visit! Am gonna go on my next visit for sure!
And so two bus loads of people thus headed hungrily for lunch, which had been arranged at the grand Toshali Resort at Ratnagiri! This is a great resort, as I could see from the quality of food, decoration, room arrangement and just the ambience! Some pics:

Toshali Ratnagiri from the outside!
Glimpse inside the Resort
Tastefully done ambience! As peaceful at the hilltop as inside the Resort..
Exquisite sculpture inside that caught my eye!
At entrance on the left, is this meaningful 3D Art....it shows Asoka surrendering arms to the Buddhist preachers of erstwhile Kalinga (ancient name of Odisha) after fighting Kalinga War which changed his life....Odisha has been the cradle of Buddhism since the time of Buddha Himself....Ratnagiri is the very lap of Buddhism!

So, are you ready to experience Ratnagiri all for yourself?! Go ahead, for you have a lovely chance now! 

Participate in #UtkalaDibasaQuiz #Contest and win a couple 2 Nights/3 Days stay at the fabulous Toshali Ratnagiri Resort! Check this link to see the awesome rooms for yourself: http://www.toshaliratnagiri.com/

And now don't just dream and drool! Get straightaway to work! Participate asap here: http://amritasabat.blogspot.in/2015/04/utkaladibasaquiz-win-2n-3d-stay-at-puri.html

All the best! Let us meet at Ratnagiri! :D


  1. Wonderful captures. You're lucky to be a part of the conference. The Votive Stupa is really amazing!
    I'm yet to visit Ratnagiri...your pictures have really intrigued me to be there soon... :-)

    1. Thanks a lot Maniparna! Glad that my post generated so much interest! :) that was my aim! :)

  2. This looks like an amazing place! :) Would love to visit; I have never really visited a Buddhist temple in India!

    1. Yes Tenny! This is a must visit place of Odisha! Entire Diamond Triangle is in fact a true delight & ought 2 b visited by one & all! :)

  3. Truly Amrita .. you are lucky to be a part of the conference ...All the pictures are beautiful and I can see the exquisite carvings .The Toshali Resort is also looking in sync with the ambience..with so many beautiful statues of the Master around, it seems to be a zen experience !

    1. Thanks a lot Kokila! Yes 'Zen' experience is an apt word! :D Best is that it is unpolluted, totally calm & serene, & uncrowded so U can revel in peace totally! :)

  4. Wow! I never associated Ratnagiri with Buddhism! What beautiful temples and architecture!

    1. This is Ratnagiri in Odisha & not any other Ratnagiri! :D Hope U realise that! :)

  5. Nice blog on the Buddhist sites of Odisha. They are really amazing places, hardly recognized by the outsiders. For most of the people; Odisha is only Bhubaneswar-Cuttack-Puri. It's high time we look beyond these places.

    Good job Amrita !! Keep it up

    1. Thanks a lot Bibhu! Rightly said. Our Buddhist places hv capability to attract large no. of tourists from the world over. Govt+entrepreneurs mst step up. Do keep visiting & commenting on my blog! :)


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