Also known as “Naltigiri” locally, it is one of the earliest Buddhist sites of the region, nestled beautifully between the hills of Parabhadi and Landa of the Assian range.
Though this site was in the radar of Archaeological Survey of India since 1905, major excavation works were only carried out between 1985 to 1991 based on the writings of Chinese Traveler Hieun T’sang. The findings indicate that the site was under the influence of both the Hinayana and the Mahayana sects, which means that the site was under continuous patronage of Buddhism from the 3rd Century BC till the 13th Century AD.
There are four monasteries and a chaityagriha, but the major attractions at the site is the remains of massive Mahastupa atop a hill.
A new museum is being made as we write this piece and will display the two priceless relic caskets found in the Mahastupa, when it gets completed. The caskets are said to contain the teeth and ash of Lord Buddha.
Entry fee – Rs. 15 for Indians and citizens of SAARC nations and Thailand and Myanmar
Rs 200 for foreign citizens other than the countries mentioned above.
Children below 15 years of age eligible for free entry.
Where to Stay
Toshali Pushpagiri – does provide a decent accommodation prospect, should one want to spend an extended amount of time in the region.
For bookings log onto the website – www.toshaliresort.com - click on Puspagiri
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How to reach – the best way to explore the three sites is to hire a car, there are many cab rental operators in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The best option is to hire a cab through OTDC as one can get a cab at a reasonable rate. Log onto the OTDC website - www.OTDC.in or directly click on the link given to check out the rates www.otdc.in/conductedsstours.htm
The road to Lalitgiri diverges at a T junction. To the right is Lalitgiri and to its left the road leads to Olasuni.
The place is famous for the Olasuni cave and temple dedicated to Goddess Olasuni. It is said that Saint Arakshit Das born as Balabhadra Dev, prince of Badakhemudi (undivided Ganjam under the Ganga dynasty) gave up his princely life in search of emancipation and meditated in the cave in Olasuni. Saint Arakshit Das died on 19th January 1837. He preached “Abadhuta Bada”- an idea of a community free of caste, creed and religion. True to his preaching, his disciples offer podapitha (a kind of Odia pancake), Sukua (dried fish) and Somarasa (wine) as offerings to the Goddess. Kanjipani ( a liquid extract from rice gruel) is the most popular Prasad at the temple. People believe its medicinal properties help cure diseases.
Where to Stay
Odisha ecotourism has set up a tented accommodation facility at Olasuni, the quaint forests and the legend of Olasuni hills makes it worth a visit for a day
For bookings log onto the website – www.ecotourodisha.com – click on Olasuni
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As one enters the road leading to Lalitgiri, Sukuapada a heritage stone craft village falls on the right after a kilometer or so. The village is inhabited by the famed Odia stone craftsmen, a visit to the village and one can see how life is being infused into the stones by the craftsmen.