Udaygiri - Glory intact in stones

While following the road marks, I was snaking in the foothills of the Jajpur district in Eastern Ghats and completely desolated areas and vacant roads were the onoly company. Finally I reached at the spot, which was precisely located in a picturesque valley.

This spot used to be an ancient Buddhist site, known by name Udaygiri and is located 82 km. from Bhubaneshwar and 15 km from Lalitgiri, which is another prominent Buddhist complex in the region.
Two monasteries and a living complex, known as "Vihars" have been unearthed in Udaygiri, dated back to 7th -12th century and since 1958 excavations are ongoing in this area to excavate buried treasure of our heritage. At the entrance it looked as if I was the only visitor at that time, so I asked cab driver to join me. he was very reluctant and expressed his apologies, as he wantted to sat with the vehicle. No issues, I went inside the entry gate and set my feet on the glorious sands of our history.

Ancient name of Udayagiri Monastery is Madhavapura Mahavihara. Going some distance from the entrance, I came across statues excavated after centuries. The intricate details of statutes are still visible clearly, despite being buried from centuries are clearly visible.

From the entry point, I was seeing this huge brick Stupa and now I was standing at this spot. 

Stupa has huge Buddha statues placed in all 4 directions; probably this was a place for offering prayers in ancient time. Though these cells are locked, but bars have enough space to push your camera/ mobile and get a click. 

While exploring around, I could not stop ravishing about the surrounding beauty. In order to take a picture covering whole Stupa, walked to the other side to get this beautiful pictures of this grand Stupa. Udaygiri site used to be a prominent part of ancient Puspagiri Univerity. This spot must have been students’ hostels, at least arrangement looks like.

It is a well known fact that our India was at the heights of prosperity in 7th - 12th century. The fact was about to get proven, when I saw this small entrance door. 

On getting close to the door, this small door turned out to be a majestic canvas-

It is a stone door, but the level of expertise in carving makes it look like a wooden door. Hats off to the stone craft of those days. After removing shoes, I went inside the small temple to find gigantic statue of Lord Buddha. See closely, the statue is assembled in 3 parts and still maintaining its posture correctly for centuries. 

Being an engineer myself, I know this is not an easy task. Hands of Lord Buddha are engraved with divine circle of life, “Sudarshan Chakra”.

After all Buddha is considered as an avatar of Lord Vishnu and Sudarshan Chakra is the weapon of Lord Vishnu. Adjacent statues are no less grand.

As the excavation is going on, more and more statues and artefacts are seeing the light of 21st century. Check out this statue, still half buried-

However I also saw damage to the statues, probably by invaders. Will never understand why these invaders/ attackers used to indulge in such heinous act on heritage.

You can wander around in the nearby hills and keep on checking the ongoing excavations. I initially had planned a 30-45 minutes stop, but ended up here for almost 2 hours. I had some extra time in hand, but still felt that some more time would have been great. But that is life, enjoy and make maximum out of whatever you get.
Near the exit is a step well to preserve / collect water for daily use. As the universities used to be located in far off places, this was the only way to meet the daily water requirement.

Modern planning needs to study/ take a cue from these step wells as ground water was not at all touched where as today ground water is main source of quenching thirst of population.  

And alongside the well is a small temple dedicated to Hanumanji, Lord Hanuman has been a guiding to all students since time immemorial to follow strict discipline while learning. This trip also had been guided by blessings from Lord Hanuman, time to pray. 

To summarize, Vow!
Lalitgiri, Udaygiri and Ratnagiri make a golden triangle of Buddhist establishment in this region. I am left with Ratnagiri only may be next time. We need to preserve these treasures; else coming generation may be left wandering in wilderness, devoid of knowledge of our past rich heritage. Read about Lalitgiri
Carry water and food, as there are no nearby shops. You can hire cab from Bhubaneshwar/ Calicut or if taking public transport, you have to get down at Paradeep highway (coming from Chandikhol) stoppage and avail local transportation to reach at the site

Keep exploring guys.     

Gaurav Verma

A passionate Traveler who wants to see the whole world before hanging his boots. Always ready to explore offbeat and hidden spots. MBA + Engineer from Ivy league colleges, Gaurav is much sought after for his choice of lifestyle activities and Brand promotional campaigns.

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