Ratnagiri Caves | Udayagiri Caves | Lalitgiri Caves | Buddhist Architectures

Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Lalitgiri are famous places in Odisha that experience the Buddhist culture and art and are also holy places for the people who believe in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Lalitgiri, the three sites together are known as the diamond triangle of Odisha representing a rich heritage of architecture and sculpture of the Post-Mauryan Trends in Indian Art.

Details regarding Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udayagiri are important from the IAS exam (art and culture) point of view. 

Aspirants can check the compilation of different Cave architecture in Ancient India on the linked page. 

The relevant information based on the same is provided in this article.

Looking for study material to prepare for the upcoming IAS Exam? 

Refer to the links below and complement your UPSC exam preparation:

Ratnagiri Caves

  1. Ratnagiri, the hill of precious gems, is located near the Birupa river in the Jajpur district of Orissa. 
  2. It is a Buddhist centre that is a well-excavated site amongst the triad of the Buddhist Diamond Triangle.
  3. The Buddhist monuments were constructed from the 5th century CE onwards, with the last work in the 13th century. The patronage is associated with the Gupta Dynasty.
  4. Excavation of Ratnagiri caves brought to light the remains of a magnificent Buddhist establishment consisting of statues of Buddha, a Commemorative Stupas (erected in memory of monks with their relics), monastic complex, the massive Mahastupa (main stupa), shrines, votive stupas (stupas erected on fulfillment of wish), myriad of sculptures, architectural fragments, Chaityagrihas (prayer halls), the ornately carved rooms set and other antiquities.
  5. There are 3 Monasteries present, of which one is a massive Monastery featuring the main shrine of a colossal seated Buddha with small standing figures of Padmapani and Vajrapani (the Bodhisattvas). The largest monastery has a beautiful carved doorway, spacious open courtyard, cells and verandah facing the courtyard.
  6. The site features statues of Tara, Avalokiteshvara, Manjusri, Aparajita, Hariti and a range of other bodhisattvas.
  7. Ratnagiri is the only monastery in India to have a curvilinear roof.
  8. There is a main stupa that  dates to the 9th century (the Gupta era stupa). It is built on the highest point at the site. The main stupas stand as a symbol of the Buddhist pilgrimage. The Stupas differ in their structure, materials and construction. 
  9. The main Stupa at Ratnagiri is closely built in the spoke and wheel method which has resemblance with the Stupas of Mahasanghika sect found at Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda.
  10. The main stupa is encircled by several medium and smaller Stupas, some more than 700 of them that represent an exceptional range of deities, with 22 identified.
  11. The monument buildings are mainly in brick, but the doorways, pillars and sculpture are mostly in two types of stone, which contrast attractively. These are a “blue-green chlorite and the local khondalite, a garnetiferous gneiss with plum-coloured overtones.
  12. The monastery sculptures of Ratnagiri can be dated back to Mahayana and Vajrayana (the Buddhism of Tantric cult).
  13. Many giant Buddha heads are found in Ratnagiri which resemble the Buddha heads found in Barbados in Indonesia and Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka.

Aspirants can check out the related links given below to do comprehensive preparation of upcoming exams – 

Buddhism – Definition, Origins, Teachings Teachings of Buddha
List of Buddhist Councils and Buddhist Texts Difference between Hinayana and Mahayana
Sanchi Stupa and Lion Capital Mauryan Empire (322 BCE -185 BCE)
Guptas and Vakatakas – Facets of Life Major Literary Works And Authors In Gupta Period

Udayagiri Caves

  1. Udayagiri is the hill of the rising sun. It is the least excavated buddhist site among the triad.
  2. The Udayagiri caves are located 7km from Bhubaneswar. They are ancient rock cut caves that were built by King Kharavela of the Meghavahana dynasty somewhere around 2nd century BC.
  3.  Out of the 117 caves that were built originally, only 33 survive today. Of these, 18 caves are located in the Udayagiri hill and 15 caves are in the Khandagiri hill.
  4. Udayagiri known as Madhavapura Mahavihara was a prominent centre of Buddhism between the 7th and 12th centuries.
  5. The Stupa at Udayagiri serves as a benchmark for the study of the Vajrayana form of Buddhism.
  6. The excavation of Udayagiri had partially revealed a double storied monastic complex that can be dated back to 8th century A.D.
  7. There are also important antiquities images of Buddha, Tara, Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, Jatamukuta Lokesvara and terracotta sealings.
  8. The caves built on the Kumari mountain range were built for the Jain monks and offered them a place to stay and meditate.
  9. The major attractions of the Udayagiri caves are – 
    • The Ganesh Gumpha known as the Ganesha Cave is famous for its carvings of Jain Tirthankaras and other sculptures. Go through the list of 24 Jain Tirthankaras on the given link. 
    • The Rani Gumpha- the cave of the queen is known for its acoustic characteristics. It is a double-storeyed structure with beautiful carvings.
    • Hathigumpha, called the elephant cave, bears the inscriptions of King Kharavela. The seventeen lines mention his many conquests and his way of governance.
    • The Vyaghara Gumpha is also called the Tiger cave because the entrance is shaped like the head of the tiger and the door shaped like a tiger’s throat.
  10. The carvings of the Udayagiri caves drew references from mythology and history. One of the most touching sections of carving in the cave is the depiction of the Kalinga War

Also, go through the following links to prepare for the art and culture section of the UPSC exam even better –

Deccan Kingdoms – Hoysalas, Kakatiyas Differences between Buddhism and Hinduism
NCERT Notes: Jainism In India Difference between Buddhism and Jainism

Lalitgiri Caves

  1. The Lalitgiri site had its continuation from 2nd century B.C to 14th century A.D.
  2. The development of Buddhism in Lalitgiri could be known from the existing cave monuments such as three number of well-built monasteries, Mahastupa, Chaitya, and a plethora of small stupas.
  3. The ancient Mahastupa yielded bone Relic Caskets, wrapped in golden foil and One sealing revealed the name Chandraditya Mahavihara.
  4. It also encompasses Mahachaitya like Nagarjunkonda of Andhrapradesh and a series of well-built monasteries for the monks.
  5. Besides, sculptures, inscriptions of the Kushana empire, Gupta and Post-Gupta periods indicate its patronage. The site has a continuous history of 1500 years. 
  6. The sculptures talk about the phases of Buddhism i.e Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.

The caves in Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Lalitgiri come under the purview of the Archeological Survey of India – ASI

Additionally, candidates can check the links provided below to assist their exam preparation – 

NCERT Notes: Art Of Indus Valley Civilisation NCERT Notes: Temple Architecture
Art and Culture During the Delhi Sultanate Period NCERT Notes: Indo-Islamic Architecture
Dravidian Architecture In India Art & Culture of Gupta Empire
NCERT Notes: Post-Mauryan Trends in Indian Art  NCERT Notes: Pallava Dynasty – Art And Architecture
NCERT Notes: Mauryan Empire: Art & Architecture Mahabalipuram: An Architectural Extravaganza

Aspirants of upcoming UPSC Prelims might encounter questions based on Ratnagiri caves, Udayagiri Caves and Lalitgiri caves under the Art and Culture section of the exam. 

Buddhism in Odisha 

  1. Even though Lord Buddha had never visited Odisha during his lifetime, the state has a rich heritage of Buddhism.
  2. In fact, there are more than 200 Buddhist sites in Odisha. Buddhism flourished here from the 6th century BC to at least 15th to 16th century AD. 
  3. Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang [602 CE – 664 CE] visited these Buddhist sites in Odisha in the 7th century and between the 8th and 10th century. 
  4. Buddhism entered Odisha long before the Kalinga War; it took wings in the region after the patronage of Emperor Ashoka
  5. Odisha’s most famous poet Jayadeva went on to describe Lord Buddha as one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu in the 12th century AD. 
  6. The writings of the Chinese Traveler Hiuen Tsang also reinforces the glorious chapter of Buddhism in Odisha. Aspirants can check the List of Important Foreign Envoys Who Visited Ancient India on the linked page. 
  7. The influence of Buddhism can be found in the socio-cultural life and rich depository of history reflected in the Buddhist monuments of the state.

Get the detailed UPSC Syllabus for the prelims and mains examination and start your Civil Services Exam preparation accordingly.

UPSC Preparation:

IAS Salary UPSC Books
IAS Prelims: UPSC MCQs On Government Schemes Government Exams
UPSC Current Affairs Quiz Topic-Wise GS 2 Questions for UPSC Mains
UPSC Monthly Magazine for Current Affairs Topic-Wise General Studies Paper-1 Questions in UPSC Mains

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