The Buddhist Heritage in Odisha is remarkable for its rich architectural remains and sculptural wealth. The great Kalinga war, which transformed Asoka into a devout Buddhist and a great champion of Buddhism, had been fought on the Odishan soil on the banks of the river Daya, not far from the temple city of Bhubaneswar. From here the light of Buddhism radiated to different Far Eastern countries like China and Japan. It is here that the foundation of a great religion and culture was laid. Odisha held the torch of peace and non-violence (Dhamn-ta) to the whole world. This great transformation which literally changed the whole world could be felt and experienced when one walks through the vistas of Buddhism in Odisha.

As a testimony to this great transformation we have the famous major rock-edicts of Asoka at Dhauli near Bhubaneswar and Jaugada in Ganjam district. Through the years, from the 3rd century B.C., Odisha had nurtured a number of Buddhist centres of learning, art and establishments in several places which flourished up to the 1 2th 13th century A.D. In fact, these places of Buddhist interest had been a great source of attraction to outside visitors from as early as the 7th century. The famous Chinese traveller Hiuen T’sang had visited the Buddhist centres in Odisha in the 7th century A.D.

Odisha is almost littered with several Buddhist centres of art and leaming. Lalitagiri, Udayagiri and Ratnagiri in Cuttack district on the banks of river Birupa is the most opulent Buddhist site (the mini goldon triangle of Odisha Tourism). Besides places like Khiching in Mayurbhanj district; Ayodhya, Solampur, Kupari and Khadipada in Balasore district; Rameswar, Banesvaranasi, Brahmavana near Salipur, Choudwar and Prachi Valley in Cuttack district; Boudh town, Baliguda area, Paragalpur and Shyamsundarpur of Phulbani district; Banpur, Aragada, Bhubaneswar and Kunima of Puri district; and Ganiapalli of Sambalpur district have great potentiality from ‘ the Buddhist-Touiist-Centre. point of view.

All these places have vestiges of rich sculptural art of both Mahayanic and Vajrayanic pantheon. In addition these places have beautifully laid out Buddhist viharas, stupas and chaityas. The’ ,recent discovery of sacred relic’s in caskets at the Lalitagiri excavation site have added to the importance of the Buddhist sites in Odisha. The recent archaeological excavations at Ratnagiri, Udayagiri, Lalitagiri, Brahmavana, Kuruma etc. have added new dimensions to the Buddhist establishments in Odisha. The Tantric-Vajrayana range of sculptures from Odisha are unique for their novel concept, fine execution and sensitive modelling and their only parallels could be found in the Buddhist art from Tibet, Nepal and China.