disha Of Bud­dhism & Beaches

The eastern In­dian state of Odisha is go­ing all out to pro­mote its Bud­dhist cir­cuit and beaches along with wildlife sanc­tu­ar­ies, apart from the al­ready pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions of Puri, Bhubaneswar and Cut­tack.

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Bud­dhism in Odisha

Bud­dhist tourism in Odisha has ob­served the open­ing up of some new vis­tas by re­cent find­ings from ex­ca­va­tions. Al­though many Bud­dhist mon­u­ments al­ready ex­ist in the state, th­ese newly iden­ti­fied sites with Bud­dhist re­mains have also added to the charm of Odisha.

With the ‘Di­a­mond Tri­ange’ of Lal­ita­giri, Rat­na­giri and Uday­giri hills, lo­cated 90 kilo­me­tres from Bhubanesh­war and 60 kilo­me­tres north­east of Cut­tack, the Di­a­mond Tri­an­gle at­tracts many Bud­dhist tourists from Asia and beyond ev­ery year.

Rat­na­giri

Rat­na­giri in the Birupa river val­ley in the district of Ja­jpur, is a fa­mous Bud­dhist cen­tre. For lovers of art and ar­chi­tec­ture, lay tourists as well as spe­cial groups, Rat­na­giri of­fers a large brick monastery with beau­ti­ful door­ways, cel­lar, sanc­tum with a colos­sal Bud­dha fig­ure and a large num­ber of Bud­dhist sculp­tures. There is a smaller monastery at the place along with a stone tem­ple, brick shrines and a large stupa with nu­mer­ous smaller stu­pas around.

Lal­it­giri

The ma­jes­tic ru­ins of the huge brick monastery, the re­mains of the chaitya hall, vo­tive stu­pas and a ren­o­vated stone stupa at the apex of a small rugged sand­stone hill dom­i­nate the ru­ral green­ery around. In ad­di­tion, the mu­seum dis­plays a large num­ber of Ma­hayana sculp­tures con­sist­ing of colos­sal Bud­dha fig­ures, huge Bod­hisattva stat­ues, stat­ues of Tara, Jamb­hala and oth­ers. The dis­cov­ery of cas­kets con­tain­ing sa­cred relics, prob­a­bly of the Tatha­gata him­self, from the stone stupa at the top of the hill, fur­ther en­hances the sa­cred­ness of the stupa as well as of Lal­it­giri for Bud­dhists around the world.

Udaya­giri

Udaya­giri and Khanda­giri Caves com­mand a unique po­si­tion in the field of his­tory, rock-cut ar­chi­tec­ture, art and re­li­gion. The caves of Udaya­giri and Khanda­giri are es­sen­tially dwelling re­treats of the Jain as­cetics. Udaya­giri pro­vides visi­tors a grand sight with its newly ex­ca­vated monastery com­plex that must be reached through a long stair­way. The un­ex­ca­vated area poses a mys­tery to ar­chae­ol­o­gists, art lovers and lay visi­tors alike with prospects of the hid­den trea­sures that lie buried.

Into the wild at Bhi­tarkanika

Na­tional Park

Con­sid­ered as one of the most im­pres­sive wildlife sanc­tu­ar­ies of Asia, the Bhi­tarkanika na­tional park is spe­cial due to rea­sons more than one. Hous­ing the dy­namic and salt tol­er­ant species of trees— the Man­groves, Bhi­tarkanika has a lux­u­ri­ant green, rich and pul­sat­ing ecosys­tem. Lo­cated in the es­tu­ar­ial re­gion of Brah­mani-Baitarani, in the north- eastern place of Ken­dra­para district, the sanctuary is home to over 215 species of birds, in­clud­ing win­ter mi­gra­tory birds from Europe and cen­tral Asia. Another rar­ity that the sanctuary has to its ac­count is the in­hi­bi­tion of its ecosys­tem by the Gi­ant Salt Wa­ter Crocodiles and nu­mer­ous va­ri­eties of other an­i­mal species. The at­trac­tion is also rich in avi­fauna, rep­til­ian and mam­malian pop­u­la­tion.

Sun, sea & sand at Gopalpur

Lo­cated at a mere dis­tance of 16 kilo­me­tres from Ber­ham­pur, this sea­port can be a real re­treat to sea lovers. Ideal for both sail­ing and surf­ing, the beach is iso­lated and re­mains undis­turbed by day trip­pers. Avid beach combers have time and again de­clared the beach as one of the finest ones at the eastern coast. Watch­ing Gopalpur's end­less empty shore­line get­ting swarmed with fish­er­men with their hand­nets full of catch is in­ter­est­ing to while away time in the stun­ning still­ness. Beau­ti­ful ob­jects made of seashells avail­able in abun­dance are worth buy­ing sou­venirs. Sand sculp­tures made by lo­cal artists are a feast to the eyes.

Satkosia

Satkosia gorge is a unique fea­ture in the ge­o­mor­phol­ogy in In­dia. Lo­cated in the dis­tricts of An­gul, Cut­tack, Naya­garh and Boudh, Satkosia gorge sanctuary with syl­van beauty and ex­cel­lent nat­u­ral fea­tures is an at­trac­tive des­ti­na­tion for sci­en­tists and na­ture lovers. The area sup­ports dry and moist de­cid­u­ous forests and moist penin­su­lar Sal forests and is strong­hold of tiger, leop­ard, ele­phant, gaur, sam­bar, spot­ted deer, mouse deer, nil­gai, sloth bear, wild dog along with va­ri­eties of res­i­dent and mi­gra­tory birds. A ma­jor at­trac­tion of the sanctuary is the gorge, river Ma­hanadi, the Ghar­ial Re­search and Con­ser­va­tion Unit at Tikara­pada, hill slopes and boat­ing.

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