Cradled between the sun-kissed beaches of the Bay of Bengal and the dense forests of Eastern Ghats, Odisha is an experience that is at once sublime and aesthetically revitalizing.
And if you find comfort in the pages of history books, Odisha is your cosy nest. No, we are not talking about the grandeur of the Jagannath temple or the marvel of the Konark Temple and neither the fascinating Golden Triangle. We rather want you to follow the steps of ancient Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang and take the road towards the Diamond Triangle- the state’s excavated Buddhist sites.
Because where Buddhism is talked about, Odisha’s name is certainly one of the leads. Though Lord Buddha never visited the state, we all know this is the very place that withstood the epic battle of Kalinga and also witnessed war-mongering Emperor Ashoka of Magadh underwent a psyche change and abandoned war for the rest of his life. And if you are in search of a visceral experience of the rich Buddhist heritage in the state, visit Ratnagiri, Udaygiri and Lalitgiri – Odisha’s Diamond Triangle. And we promise you instant enlightenment.
The crowned jewel of the Buddhist settlements in the state, Ratnagiri screams of Buddhism through its strong silent ambience. The most excavated site of the trio, it stands atop a small hillock. A flight of mossy stairs leads to an open space that stands as a testimony to how Buddhism flourished unhindered over there. Rays of light bouncing off votive stupas and sculptures, casting delicate shadows on the intricately designed bas-relief transports you back to the days of monks and their monastic days.
The largest of the three archaeological sites, Udaygiri or the hill of the rising sun is no less than its counterparts. The majestic Buddha statue welcoming you into the site indeed feels like a supreme power watching over you. This starkly beautiful destination encapsulated by trees and dotted with sacred archeological findings has a fairytale charm that will engulf you in its spiritual grandeur.
Spirituality is an inner part of these excavated sites. But Lalitgiri is considered the holiest of the three sites of Diamond Triangle because a recent excavation yielded a casket containing a sacred bone relic. Many believe the relic is of Buddha himself. Fascinating, right?
A favourite destination for passionate travellers, Odisha rewards those who have the desire to stray off the beaten track with an intricate patchwork of archeological wonders and natural beauty, along with an old-fashioned sprinkling of sun and sand.