UDAYGIRI
Udayagiri, "Sunrise Hill", is home to the largest Buddhist complex in Odisha. It consists of a brick stupa, two brick monasteries, a stepped stone well with inscriptions on it, and numerous rock-cut Buddhist sculptures. Chronologically, the Udayagiri Buddhist Complex is later than Ratnagiri and Lalitgiri, and the monasteries probably flourished between the 7th and the 12th centuries A.D. Although it was discovered in 1870, excavations didn't commence until 1985. They've been undertaken in two phases across two settlements around 200 meters apart -- Udayagiri 1 from 1985 to 1989, and Udayagiri 2 from 1997 to 2003. The remains indicate that the settlements were called "Madhavapura Mahavihara" and "Simhaprastha Mahavihara", respectively.
The stupa at Udayagiri 1 has four seated stone statues of Lord Buddha, enshrined and facing each direction. The monastery there is also impressive, with 18 cells and a shrine chamber that has an intricately carved ornamental facade. The excavation turned up many Buddhist images and stone sculptures of Buddhist divinities as well. At Udayagiri 2, there's an extensive monastic complex with 13 cells and a towering statue of Buddha, seated in bhumisparsa mudra. Its vaulted arches are an architectural marvel from 8th-9th century AD. What's unique about this monastery is the path around its shrine, which isn't found in any other monastic settlements in Odisha.
Another attraction at Udayagiri is a gallery of Buddhist rock-cut images, overlooking the Birupa river (locally known as Solapuamaa) below. There are five images consisting of a standing life-size Boddhisattva, a standing Buddha, a goddess seated over a stupa, one more standing Boddhisattva, and a seated Boddhisattva.
The Udayagiri site promises additional treasures, as there's still more to excavate. The un-excavated area poses a mystery to archaeologists, art lovers and lay visitors alike with the prospects of the hidden treasures that lie buried. Adventure seekers will be thrilled by the ascent to the hilltop. The hilly, serpentine, all-weather approach road on the other side of Udayagiri is another added attraction.