Located 73KM from Cuttack, Ratnagiri is the most well excavated and preserved site amongst the famed Buddhist Diamond Triangle triad. The other two sites of the triad are Lalitgiri and Udayagiri. The sites give a sneak peek into the rich cultural heritage of Buddhism in the state which flourished from the 6th Century BC to the 13th Century AD.
It is the only Buddhist monastery with a curvilinear roof in the country. Ratnagiri is strategically located on top of a hill, which provided the monks with seclusion to practice their craft as well as protection. Hieun T’sang, who visited Odisha during 639 AD, gave a vivid account of the popularity and flourish of Buddhism in the state. The constructional activities at Ratnagiri got special impetus under the royal patronage of the Bhaumakaras (9th-10th century A.D).
The museum located near the site has many rare exhibits on display, which were found during excavation of the site.
Entry fee – Rs. 15 for Indians and citizens of SAARC nations and Thailand and Myanmar
Entry fee - Rs 200 for foreign citizens other than the countries mentioned above.
Children below 15 years of age are eligible for free entry.
The museum remains closed on friday.
Where to Stay
Though most of the tourists prefer to cover the Diamond triangle in a day, in case if you want to stay back and seep in the history a bit more, Toshali Ratnagiri located just opposite the Ratnagiri museum offers a comfortable option. The resort comes equipped with a bar too.
Mobile - (+91)7894456444
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How to reach – the best way to explore the three sites is to hire a car, there are many tour operators in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack. The best option is to hire a cab through OTDC as it will be convenient. 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
According to Prof Thomas Donaldson of Cleveland University, who has written many books on art and history of Odisha and India, Ratnagiri was a rival to Nalanda as a site of Buddhist learning and according to him some of the Tibetan texts even ascribe the origin of Mahayana and Tantrayana sect of Buddhism to Ratnagiri.
The then Director General of Archeological Survey of India, Mrs. Debala Mitra, who explored and excavated the sites between 1975-83 and authored a book on Ratnagiri said “recent excavations of the top of the hillock brought to light imposing remains of one of the most important Buddhist establishments, reclaimed as Ratnagiri-Mahavihara (and not Pushpagiri-Vihara as presumed by some) on the basis of a number of sealings bearing the legend Sri-Ratnagiri-mahavihariy-aryabikshu-sanghasya. With its nucleus dating at least from about the fifth century A.D, the establishment witnessed a phenomenal growth in religion, art and architecture till twelve century A.D. It played a significant role in disseminating Buddhist culture and religion forming itself, like Nalanda, an important religious and philosophical academy, the entrants and scholars flocked to Ratnagiri to take lessons from the intellectual stalwarts of Buddhism".
Just behind the Ratnagiri Monastery is an area where stone craftsmen ply their trade, do visit them to see their work and one can buy some of the artefacts too.
Usually tour operators club the Diamond triangle with Puri and Bhubaneswar; ensure the itinerary isn’t cramped, if you are undertaking a clubbed conducted tour. It is advisable to carry essential items and snacks as the Diamond triangle is located in remote area without much facility.
The nearest ATM is the SBI ATM at Ratnagiri, there is also an SBI ATM at Mahanga and the nearest hospital is at Salipur. The nearest Police station is at Salipur. Avoid travelling at noon during the summers.