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Ratnagiri was once the site of a mahavihara, or major Buddhist monastery, in the Brahmani and Birupa river valley in Jajpur district of Orissa, India. It was part of the Puspagiri University, together with Lalitgiri and Udayagiri.



Ratnagiri was established no later than the reign of the Gupta king Narasimha Baladitya in the first half of the sixth century CE, and flourished until the twelfth century CE. A Tibetan history, the Pag Sam Jon Zang, identifies Ratnagiri as an important center in the development of the Kalachakratantra in the 10th century CE, an assertion supported by the discovery of a number of votive stupas, plaques, and other artifacts featuring Kalachakra imagery.[1]

Architectural features


A large-scale excavation was conducted at the site between 1958 and 1961[2], uncovering much of what is known today. The main stupa dates to the 9th century AD and was likely built on the site of an earlier, Gupta-era stupa. Seals were found bearing the legend "Sri Ratnagiri Mahavihariya Aryabikshu Sanghasya," which helped identify it. Prominent, well-persevered standing statues of the bodhisattvas Vajrapani and Padmapani can be found in niches in a portico. Monastery No. 2 features a central paved courtyard flanked by a pillared veranda around which are eighteen cells, a central shrine featuring an image of Shakyamuni in varada mudra flanked by Brahma and Sakra, and elaborately ornamented entrance porticos.

According to Amit Jha, a lecturer in the Department of History at Sri Aurobindo College, Delhi University, "Ratnagiri comprises two magnificent monasteries, also rebuilt more than once. One of them was double-storyed and had an extensive courtyard with two-sides of it having a number of cells for habitation of monks. Besides, we have archaeological remains of six temples, thousands of small stupas, 1386 seals, myriad sculptural relics and architectural pieces of daily use. The largest stupa was 47 feet (14 m) square and 17 feet (5.2 m) high surrounded by four minor stupas. There are hundreds of miniature votive stupas decorated with lotus, petal and beaded tassels."[3]

A museum now located on the site displays statuary featuring Tara, Avalokiteshvara, Aparajita, and Hariti have also been found, all in prototypical of Gupta style.


  1. ^ Also see [1].
  2. ^ The report of these excavations was published by the A.S.I. in the two-volume book by Debala Mitra listed in the Bibliography
  3. ^ [2]


  • " Ratnagiri (1958-61)", Mitra, D., Vol. I (1981) & Vol. II (1983), published as SI. No. 80 of the A.S.I.'s "Memoirs of the Archaeological Survey of India" [3]
  • " Magnificent samples of Buddhist architecture", Brindha, G. The Hindu, Friday, Aug 29,2003[4]
  • Iconography of the Buddhist Sculpture of Orissa, Donaldson, Thomas Eugene. Abhinav Publications: 2001. ISBN 8170173752


Latitude 20° 38' N | Longitude 86° 20' E

Location of Ratnagiri
in Orissa and India
Coordinates 20°38′00″N 86°20′00″E / 20.6333°N 86.3333°E / 20.6333; 86.3333
Country  India
State Orissa
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)


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