Ratnagiri or “Hill of Jewels", was once the site of a mahavihara, or major Buddhist monastery, in the Brahmani and Birupa river valley in Jajpur district of Odisha. It was part of the Puspagiri University, together with Lalitgiri and Udayagiri.
Brahmani and Birupa river valley in Jajpur district of Odisha. It was part of the Puspagiri University, together with Lalitgiri and Udayagiri. Ratnagiri monastery, situated on a flat hill-top providing for a panoramic view of the surrounding, might have been chosen for the seclusion for the serene and calm atmosphere necessary for monastic life and meditation studies. The Buddhist site at Ratnagiri dates back to the 6th century AD and flourished unhindered there until 12th century AD. In the beginning, it was a center for Mahayana Buddhism. During the 8th and 9th centuries AD, it became a significant center for Tantric Buddhism. Subsequently, it played a notable role in the emergence of Kalachakra Tantra.
The Ratnagiri site was discovered in 1905 and excavations carried out between the years 1958 to 1961.
Excavation conducted during 1960's yielded the remains of an impressive Stupa (Stupa 1) surrounded by a large number of votive Stupas of varying dimensions, two quadrangular monasteries (Monasteries 1 and 2), a single winged huge monastery with beautiful carved door jamb and lintel, spacious open courtyard, cells and verandah facing the courtyard with spacious sanctum enshrining a colossal seated Buddha sculpture, flanked by Padmapani and Vajrapani. The monastery known as Monastery 1, constructed in 8th-9th centuries AD, is the largest excavated monastery in Odisha. Its elaborately carved green doorway leads to 24 brick cells. The existence of temple with curvilinear tower is only one of its kinds discovered in Odisha.
The massive stone sculptures of Lord Buddha's head at Ratnagiri are particularly awe-inspiring. More than two dozen heads of various sizes, magnificently depicting the serene meditative expression of Buddha, were found during the excavations. They're considered to be fine works of art. A large number of clay sealing, found during excavations, bearing the legend Shri Ratnagiri Mahavihariya Arya Bhikshu Samghasya have helped in identifying the name of Ratnagiri monastery. Large number of stone sculptures, few bronze and brass image of Buddha and Buddhist pantheon recovered during excavations tend to prove that Ratnagiri was a great center of Buddhism comparable to that of Nalanda in Bihar.
The Archeological Museum of Ratnagiri is open on all days from 10am to 5pm except Friday.