Buddhist monuments in Odisha’s Jajpur district on the brink of destruction!

Jajpur: A number of Buddhist heritage sites are found in Odisha. Many of them are located in the present day Jajpur district. The Ratnagiri Monastery and Buddhist monuments are in this district.  Besides, the Udayagiri Buddhist complex, the Langudi hills Archaeological sites etc. are also found here. Though many precious Buddhist monuments, pillars etc. were excavated at these places, it has been alleged that due to lack of maintenance these precious monuments and sites are on the verge of extinction.

As per history after visit of Chinese Buddhist monk, scholar, traveller Hiuen Tsang to India in the 7th century, Buddhism was propagated at many places of Odisha. Some people are of the opinion that the maximum Buddhist heritage sites and monuments are found in Jajpur district in present day Odisha.

Since ancient time when the State of Odisha was known in the name Kalinga or Utkal to even present day, the State houses many precious religious places, temples, mosques and churches. And hence the State has got recognition as a place for all religions and communal harmony.

The Biraja Kshetra which is present day Jajpur has been discussed since the time of mythology. As per archaeological findings there are heritages in Jajpur that dates back to the ancient time. Once upon a time this place was regarded as the capital of the then Odisha while it was the place where Buddhist, Jain and inclination towards Lord Shiva and Shakti are found. However, today we find only the remnants of the old monuments..

It is said Jajpur was the first town that was influenced by the teaching of nonviolence by Lord Buddha. As per reports, back then two traders named Tapasu and Bhallika had propagated Buddhism in the Asitanjana Nagari Keshastali and Bhalluko are of the then Utkal. These two were the chief disciples of Lord Buddha. If we look past it has been seen that for the propagation of every religion kings and rules played a major part.

As described by Chinese visitor Huen Sang in the then Odra village the Hinajani stupa (Buddhist pagoda) was made by Mourya Samrat Ashoka. Out of that ancient remnants of Buddhist Pagodas have been found in Jajpur. The famous Buddist Vihar Ratnagiri, Udaygiri and Langudi of Dharmasala, Kaema, Tarapur, Neulapur, Deuli, Bajragiri, Kantigadia hill and Radhanagar  area many rare and precious heritages have been discovered. From these monuments and Buddhist heritage sites it can be seen how Buddhism was prevalent in this State.

The Mirjapur and Patapur Panchayats are at a distance of about 8 kms from Jaraka chowk of Jajpur district. Langudi hill is situated in between these two panchayats. It is a Buddhist heritage. Langudi hill has earned glory in the national level. Excavation started here in 1996 by ASI and the State Culture Dept. After excavation, from the hill statues of Samrat Ashoka and Lord Buddhadev, stone inscriptions, brick pagoda, remnants and ancient terracotta works were found. Following the excavation interested people from across the country started to pay visit to this area. However, these monuments are now in wretched condition. Due to lack of necessary maintenance and security the site has lost its past glory.

Since it was a big tourist attraction then, the govt of Odisha had constructed guest houses and also erected other facilities in the foot of the hill in 2006-07 with a cost of about Rs 7 crore. Also, prayer hall, hall for Buddhist monks, Yoga room, hotel and stalls had been constructed. Even drinking water and electric supply had been made. However, it was not maintained properly. Hence, afte a few years, now these facilities have become wretched. The front iron gate  and window sills have been taken out while the marbles and tiles have also fallen.

These days this place has become hub of unsocial elements. Due to lack of security the guest house is not in a position to host guests.

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