Ratnagiri (Odia: meaning “hill of jewels”) is the location of a ruined maha vihara, which was once the most important Buddhist monastery in modern Odisha, India. It is located in the Jajpur district on a hill between the Brahmani and Birupa rivers. It is close to other Buddhist sites in the area, including Lalitagiri and Udayagiri, and is 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Bhubaneswar, the state capital, and 70 kilometers from Cuttack, the former state capital.
The Buddhist monuments were built starting in the 5th century CE and ending in the 13th century, with the peak era of activity being during the 7th and 10th centuries. The site was abandoned after the 16th century, and it is now in ruins. These were little known until the 1960s, when the Archaeological Survey of India (“ASI”) conducted significant excavation projects, revealing the site and unearthing large quantities of very excellent sculptures. “The finest in terms of carved stone decoration to have survived in India,” according to Monastery 1. Some of it was relocated to other museums, but much of it remained on site. A museum has recently opened at the location to hold many of the pieces.
Three quadrangular monasteries, as well as a spectacular stupa (Stupa 1) encircled by hundreds of smaller stupas of varied sizes, were the key elements (Monasteries 1 to 3). Monastery 1 is the largest, with a stunning carved doorway, a large open courtyard, cells, and verandahs facing the courtyard, and a great shrine centered on a giant Buddha.
The buildings are mostly made of brick (much of which has since been removed), but the doorways, pillars, and sculptures are mostly made of two different types of stone that contrast nicely. A “blue-green chlorite and the local khondalite, a garniferous gneiss with plum-colored overtones” are involved. The majority of the stone sculptures unearthed at the site, together with a few (27) metal and brass figurines, are of the “Post-Gupta” style, with the earlier ones maintaining the classic form of Gupta art. The images are large of Buddha and the Buddhist pantheon, and examination of the topic patterns over time reveals that Ratnagiri, like Nalanda in Bihar, became a center of Tantric Buddhism. Over two dozen enormous Buddha heads, in particular, have been discovered.

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