Remnants of An Illustrious Seat of Learning
The most famous and comparatively well excavated site amongst the triad of the Buddhist Diamond Triangle, Ratnagiri captured the imagination of historians and archeologist alike during its excavation, between 1975-1983.
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 regard that the Mahayana and Tantrayana sect of Buddhism originated from Ratnagiri.
The beautifully carved entrance gate of the Monastery is one of the most photographed Buddhist structures in the world. Ratnagiri is also the only monastery in India to have a curvilinear roof. The numerous Votive Stupas (Stupas erected on fulfillment of wish), the Commemorative Stupas (Stupas erected in memory of monks with their relics), the massive Mahastupa (main stupa), Chaityagrihas (prayer halls), statues of Buddha and the ornately carved rooms set amidst serene surroundings on top of hillock makes one wonder about the greatness of an era gone by.
Any mention of Ratnagiri is incomplete without mentioning the name of Mrs. Debala Mitra- the then Director General of Archeological survey of India, who explored and excavated the site. In her book titled “Ratnagiri” she mentions - “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."
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