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Udaygiri Sightseeing

India Buddhism BookingStupa : One of the most fascinating Buddhist ruins of Orissa is the imposing square central brick stupa of Udayagiri, which has a wide molded horizontal band of several brick courses with insets and offsets towards its base. On each of the four sides, pillared inset niches are placed above the molding, with a stone sculpture of a seated Dhyani Buddha in each niche. These include Akshobhaya on the east, Vairocana towards the north, Amitabha turned to the west, and Ratnasambhava facing the south. The roof that is not sculpted is believed to have the symbolic representation of the last Dhyani Buddha, Amoghasiddhi. The top of all these sculptures has inscriptions in Sanskrit, and Brahmi characters of the 10 th century A.D. The Dhyani Buddhas were typical to Vajrayana Buddhism and enjoyed the same status as the Buddha, though they were not required to pass through the stages of the Bodhisattvas. They were five in number and were always engaged in peaceful meditation with the aim to realize Bodhisattvas. They represent the five mudras or postures the Buddha had adopted on various occasions. The previous artistic representations of the Buddha in several early monasteries inspired the iconographic representation of the Dhyani Buddhas.

However, some Vajrayana authorities believe the Dhyani Buddhas originated from the theory of the five eternal elements of the universe, notably earth, water, sky, fire and wind. They further had the power to fuse all these elements into one through action. In their artistic representations, the five Dhyani Buddhas look alike, have a common seating posture on a double-rowed lotus in full bloom, and often hold a bowl. Only vehicles and symbols help distinguish one from the other. The Udayagiri stupa is the only one of its kind discovered so far in India in which the Dhyani Buddhas are shown as described in the Vajrayana texts.

India Buddhism BookingThe Monastery : Situated at the foot of the hill beside the central stupa is the excavated monastery of Udaygiri, which is the next major attraction of the place. The monastery comprises of the central courtyard surrounded by cells in which the monks slept. The compound wall of the east has a gate which is the main entrance to the courtyard. Just opposite to the main entrance is the shrine. The doorjambs of this shrine or the garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum) are beautifully carved with scrolls, floral designs, Yakshas, Kinnaras (divine semi-gods) and the Buddha on the central part of the lintel. On both sides of the doorjambs are the sculptures of Buddha and Buddhist Divinities. A colossal image of the Buddha, carved out of a few blocks of stone, is the presiding deity of the monastery.

Going by the style in which these sculptures have been executed, archaeologists are of the opinion that they hail from the 7 th-8 th century A.D.

Another large isolated monastery to the west on a higher elevation is currently excavated. The monastery, similar in plan and size has preserved a colossal image of the Buddha in its shrine.

India Buddhism BookingBesides a number of other structures like brick pavements, smaller and votive stupas, ritual pits, a kitchen complex and a unique large rock-cut tank, and stone sculptures belonging to different deities of the Vajrayana pantheon have been found. These certainly prove that Udayagiri was a flourishing Vajrayana centre between the 8 th -10 th centuries A.D.