Lalitgiri,a buddhist site

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The Site

Lalitagiri is on the hills of the Assia range in Mahanga Tahsil and it is situated 20035' N. and 86015' E. Lalitagiri consists of three spurs: the Olasuni, the Landa and the Parabhadi. Out of these three hills, the Olasuni is famous as the seat of saint Arakshita Das who lived there during the later half of  the 18th century A.D. The Landa hill boasts of extensive ruins of brick monuments. The north-eastern half of the hill which slopes towards the base of the Parabhadi hill has yielded splendid figures of the Mahayana Buddhist iconography.

In a recently built masonry shed at the site by the Archaeological Survey of India, more than 30 large sculptures have been preserved by the department. The remains of stupas were also exposed and a stone stupa was identified. Further excavation by the Archaeological Survery of India, Bhubaneswar Circle revealed the real character of the stone stupa along with relic caskets discovered for the first time in Orissa. Another significant discovery was the ruins of a huge brick apsidal chaityagriha measuring 22 m. in length, 11.4m. in breadth and 3.3o m. thick wall. Further digging has brought 3 monastic complexes. The Brahmi inscription of Kusan character, a number of shell inscriptions and a hoard of Buddhist figures show the antiquity and importance of the site and prove it as a major Buddhist centre of Orissa.

In spite of discovery of the above noted objects of art, antiquities and a fairly large number of epigraphical facts, the importance of Lalitagiri monastery was not fully identified till the early part of 1992. The excavation of the fourth monastery on the eastern part of the Landa hill by the Archaeological Survey of India, Bhubaneswar Circle from November 1991 to June 1992, has brought out a colossal headless Buddha image(7 feet in height) in bhumisparshamudra, a unique terracotta monastic seal and a number of artifacts. The discovery of the seal has revealed the name of the Vihar as 'Shri Chandraditya Vihar Samagra Aryavikshu Sangha'. With this discovery, the hypothesis of considering Lalitagiri as Puspagirivihar has come to  rest. Besides, two secret chambers on both sides of the main entrance of the monastery were discovered. These secret chambers were possibly used for keeping valuables offered by the devotees.


Lalitgiri,a buddhist site


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