Some 83 km east of Bhubaneswar, there is located an ancient Buddhist complex amidst the picturesque Birupa-Chitrotpala valley in the district of Cuttack, Odisha. This Buddhist heritage site in Odisha dates back to 1st century AD. Lalitgiri is an important part of Diamond Triangle of Odisha which includes three major ancient Buddhist sites; Ratnagiri and Udayagiri being the other two. In 1937, the central government gave this place the status of a protected monument. The place constitutes stupas, monasteries, and Buddha images as its main attractions. It is said that Lalitgiri was a prime place of Tantric Buddhism. Some excavations were carried out at Lalitgiri in 1977 by Utkal University. However, the major excavation was carried out by Bhubaneswar Circle of the Archaeological Survey of India between 1985 and 1991 to find the Pushpagiri. Pushpagiri was mentioned in the writings of the Chinese traveller Xuanzang. It was this excavation which officially declared Lalitgiri an ancient Buddhist site in Odisha.
Moreover, this excavation also helped to discover various important ruins. From this excavation, a large stupa was recovered with two caskets with some relics. As per the archaeological experts, these are Buddha’s relics. Besides, remnants of four monasteries were also discovered in this excavation process. Facing east, the first was the largest monastery, sprawls in the area of 390 sq ft, that dates back to 10th-11th century. The second and third ones face north and south-east. Whereas, the fourth monastery include many large Buddha heads in the sanctum sanctorum. Moreover, the idols of Buddha in different postures along with a few prestigious relics were also discovered. Another talk of this enthralling place is a museum where sculptures of Buddhas, stone statues, images of various deities and relic caskets are put on a display.
Best Time to Visit
From October to March, the place witnesses a comfortable and pleasant weather condition that remains ideal for tourism, and hence, these months are the best time to visit Lalitgiri.
How to Reach?
Biju Patnaik International Airport, which is located at a distance of 87 km, is the nearest airport from Lalitgiri. Whereas, Cuttack Railway Station serves as the closest railhead from the place that is located just at a distance of 58 km.
Nearby Tourist Attractions
- Ratnagiri: A large Buddhist monastery that dates back to the 5th century is Ratnagiri. The place is known for various ancient ruins and relics including a large stupa and various sculptures of Buddha.
- Udayagiri: Renowned as the largest earliest Buddhist centre in Odisha, Udayagiri is situated at a distance of 10 km from the place. The heritage site of Udayagiri is a prominent part of Diamond Triangle of Odisha that also features Ratnagiri and Lalitgiri.
- Olasuni Caves: Lies on the border of Jajpur and Cuttack district, Olasuni Cave is just a km away from Lalitgiri. Olasuni Cave is a historical and religious tourist site near Lalitgiri.
- Langudi: Another Buddhist heritage site in near proximity to Lalitgiri, Langudi houses a series of 34 rock-cut stupas and various temples from ancient times. The place also has images of various deities.