Udayagiri (ଉଦୟଗିରି ଗୁମ୍ଫା) is the largest Buddhist complex in the Indian state of Odisha composed of major stupas and monasteries (viharas). Together with Lalitgiri and Ratnagiri, it is part of Puspagiri University. This heritage site is also known as the "Diamond Triangle" of the "Ratnagiri-Udayagiri-Lalitgiri" complex. As per epigraphical artifacts found here, its historical name was “Madhavapura Mahavihara.” This Buddhist complex, preceded by the Ratnagiri and Lalitgiri sites, with their monasteries, are inferred as of 7th and the 12th centuries period. Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang who had visited these sites had noted that it was the site of Pushpagiri University.
Numerous excavations by the ASI have been conducted at Udayagiri since 1958. The Udayagiri Site 1, the first site to be excavated here is in a depression between two valleys. In the excavations done during the period between 1985-86 and 1989-90, at the Udayagiri Site 2, the antiquities exposed consisted of a Buddhist Monastic complex enclosed within a compound wall; a stupa of 7 metres (23 ft) height with four images of dhyani Buddhas fixed at its four cardinal points. On the basis of the epigraphical evidences archaeologist have inferred that this site is “Madhavapura Mahavihara”. During the large excavation from 1997 to 2000, a second part of Udayagiri-2 was discovered with additional stupas and monasteries. These antiquities consist of: Two eighth century monastic complexes; statues of Buddha, Tara, Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, Jatamukuta Lokesvara and many terracotta (earthenware) seals. A stepped stone well with epigraphic inscriptions has also been discovered. Also seen near one of the entry gates at the site is a human figure swinging on a rope, with eyes closed, in a state of perfect happiness.
During the recent investigations conducted between 2001 and 2004 the antiquities unearthed were: A stone finish flooring in the foreground of the excavated monastery; the main drain of the monastery flowing out to the north; a big stone raised platform built in seven layers with ashlar masonry of size 14.05 by 13.35 metres (46.1 ft × 43.8 ft) accessed through a series of steps, and marked in its northern end by a chandrashila (moon rock); apsidal chaitya-grihas (an old one replaced by another built in brick) facing east with a stupa diefied in it, built with stone and bricks, founded on the raised platform; remnants of stone jali embellished with the theme of a three-hooked snake inferred as gavakshas (horse-shoes arches).
Images of Tara in the form of Tara Kurukulla or Kurukulla Tara have been reported from Udayagiri and also from Lalitgiri and Ratnagiri; it is an emanation form of Amitabha seated in a Lalitasana posture. Images of Hariti have also been found in Udayagiri and also in Lalitgiri and Ratnagiri. This image was found in a seated position breast feeding a child or with the child seated on its lap. Hariti was once a child lifter but Buddha persuaded her to become the protector of children.
Also seen in the westren, southern and northern part of the chaitya-griha are remnants of a number of stupas in three bunches, built in stone with only their plain plinths seen in a preserved state. An important discovery, in the precincts of the chaitya-griha, is of statues of Avalokiteswara, Tathagata, Bhikruti-Tara and Chunda embedded in the niches, marking the four cardinal points. Other findings are of 14 stupas (built in brick with mud mortar) dated between 1st and 12th centuries, and also many 5th to 13th century epigraphs. Votive stupas, made of stone, are also seen along a stone paved path. At the eastern part of the chaitya-griha there are residential houses consisting of six rooms with artifacts of home appliances. Though located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) away from Ratnagiri, the site has not revealed any artifacts which could provide a link to the Vajrayana tantric cult.
- "Udayagiri". Government of Odisha, Department of Tourism.
- Hoiberg & Ramchandani 2000, p. 175-176.
- Kumar, Arjun (22 March 2012). "Sounds of silence at Buddhist sites in Odisha, Ratnagiri-Udayagiri-Lalitgiri". Economic times.
- "Excavations - 2000-2005 – Orissa". Various Udaygiri-2, dt. Jajpur. Archaeological Survey of India. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
- Hoiberg Ramchandani, p. 175-176.
- Session 2000, p. 74.
- Session 2000, p. 76.
- Hoiberg, Dale; Ramchandani, Indu (2000). Students' Britannica India. Popular Prakashan. ISBN 978-0-85229-760-5.
- Session, Indian Art History Congress (2000). Proceedings of Indian Art History Congress. Indian Art History Congress.
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