Archive for the 'Odisha history' Category

The Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri ancient Buddhist knowledge center in Odisha; has been compared with Nalanda in the art history and archaeology literature

APPEAL to readers, CENTER & ODISHA, Historical places, Jajpur, Kalinganagar- Chandikhol- Paradip, Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri, Odisha history, Universities: existing and upcoming Comments Off on The Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri ancient Buddhist knowledge center in Odisha; has been compared with Nalanda in the art history and archaeology literature

(Appeal to readers: I would appreciate any additional pointers to literature where the knowledge center aspects of the Odisha buddhist monuments have been discussed and/or they have been compared with the well-known buddhist sites in India such as Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Sanchi, etc.)

We all have read about Nalanda and Taxila as ancient learning centers and they are often referred to the as precursor of the present day universities. In Odisha the yet to be identified Puspagiri mahavihara as well as the Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri  have been compared with Nalanda in the art history and Buddhist literature. Following are some slides (in facebook) which compiles that information. In these slides we quote extensively from Mrs. Debala Mitra’s two books. Mrs. Mitra was the Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India (1975-1983) [Page 448 of this book] and has written extensively on various Monuments of India.


The above slides do not have any pictures. As is mentioned in some of the slides, the Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri Mahaviharas are also comparable to Bodhgaya in certain respects and one slide mentioned how none of the monasteries in Nalanda can compare with the embellishment in one of the monastery found in Ratnagiri. The following pictures, again from facebook, gives one the idea of what has been found in Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri and the beauty and significance of them.

In 2010 the Indian Parliament passed the Nalanda International University Bill. This university is in the making now and this wikipedia page has information on it. We hope that some day more people in Odisha and India will know about Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri and a similar university (perhaps called Puspagiri University, the yet to be identified Mahavihara about which Hiuen Tsang wrote glowingly) will be established in Odisha. Towards that effort some background information has been compiled in a facebook page and a facebook account. Following is a glimpse of the information that has been collected.

Odisha government’s plan for Buddhist tourism in Jajpur

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Following is an excerpt from a report  Akshay Rout in Pioneer.

To attract more tourists to Langudi, Kaima, Neulipur, Tarapur and other hills in Jajpur district, the State Government would spend Rs 14 crore in four years, said Secretary of Tourism and Culture Department Ashok Tripathy while he, along with other senior officials, visited these Buddhist sites on Saturday.

For an archeological hotspot, Langudi wears the tag of obscurity well. Located in Dharmasala tehsil, it is a sleepy hamlet with a sparse population. But things could change, thanks to the discovery of a Buddhist Stupa along with many images of different postures of Lord Buddha. Langudi hit the headlines eight years ago when several senior historians and archaeologists considered it as the Puspagiri, as described the famous Chinese traveller Huein Tsang. However, few tourists have since ventured into this remote hamlet for a view of the artifacts. But the government would spend money to develop the Buddhist site, said Tripathy.

Targeting Buddhist tourism in Jajpur, the Government is going to launch a Buddhist Circuit involving primary pilgrimage places associated with the life and teachings of Lord Buddha. Lalitagiri, Ratnagiri, Udayagiri, Langudi, Kaima and Neulipur are the primary pilgrimage places along with numerous other sites, where Buddha and the saints travelled, would be parts of the tourist itinerary, Tripathy said.

… The Government would build a 150-feet-high Buddha statute at Neulapur hill and a 85-feet Buddha statute at Deuli hill. A 50-feet-high Shiva statute would be built in the Gokarneswat temple. A 500-meter-long ropeway would be connected from Deuli hill to Kaima hill, he added.

ASI plans a new museum at Lalitgiri; one exists at Ratnagiri

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Following is from

The Buddhist relics found during an excavation at Lalitgiri in Orissa are proposed to be housed in a museum. The Excavated Buddhist Site, Lalitgiri was notified as Centrally Protected in the year 1937. The site has been extensively excavated by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) during the year 1985-1992. The remains of a massive Stupa including a relic caskets consisting of four containers made of Khondalite, Steatite, Silver and Gold containing corporal remains have been recovered during the excavation, besides other important structure and archeological remains. At present, the relic caskets are in the safe custody of Superintending Archaeologist, Bhubaneswar Circle, ASI, Bhubaneswar, Orissa. Further, In order to set up a site museum at Lalitgiri the site has been inspected and preparation of detailed drawing (Plan, Elevation, Design) of the proposed museum building have been initiated by the Bhubaneswar Circle, ASI.

The relic –caskets containing Buddhist bone relics would be housed and displayed for the public under adequate security and surveillance

Note that a similar museum exists at Ratnagiri. See

In the facebook note we have collected various links about Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri, Udaygiri and Langudi hills. We are trying to find out  what archaeologists and historians think regarding the  existence of ancient Buddhist Universities in Odisha. The information about Madhavapura Mahavihara (in Udaygiri) at looks interesting in that regard.

Line drawing of the Puri Rath Yatra in 1818 conserved at the British Library: Dharitri

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A short history of Oriya printing: op-ed from Dharitri

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Milestones in Orissa history, 1800-2000: Samaja

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Utkalmani Gopabandhu’s Satyabadi magazine, the precursor of Samaja

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History of Parlakhemundi light railway: Indian Express

Gajapati, Naupada - Gunupur (Gauge conversion), Odisha history, Railway network in Odisha, Rayagada Comments Off on History of Parlakhemundi light railway: Indian Express

Indian Express has a nice article on the history of Parlakhemundi light railway. Following are some excerpts.

Paralakhemedi Light Railway (PLR) was two feet six inches gauge railway. It was the brainchild of the erstwhile Raja of Paralakhemedi. The Kimedi country, consisting of Paralakhemedi, Paddakimedi and Chinna Kimedi, was under a single ruler till 1607. Paralakhemedi came under the British influence in 1768.

East Coast Railway came into existence in the year 1893 with the construction of the Cuttack-Khurda Road-Puri line, covering a distance of 96 kms and its subsequent link along the East Coast up to Vijayawada — junction point of Southern Maratha Railway and Nizam’s Guaranteed State Railway. As a result, a stretch of 1280 kms of East Coast Railway, covering the entire coastal stretch of Cuttack, Khurda Road, Puri, Palasa, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Kakinada, Rajahmundry, Vijayawada, was opened for traffic between 1893 to 1896. East Coast Railway brought rail line to Naupada in 1894. The Raja of Paralakhemedi decided to connect his capital with Naupada, which was only 40 kms away. With the government giving sanction in 1898, work began in full earnest. The line was opened to traffic in 1900. This railway line was built at a cost of Rs 7 lakh.

Due to a change in the policy of the British Government, the Bengal Nagpur Railway, popularly known as the B.N.R, took over the northern section of East Coast Railway from Vizianagaram to Cuttack, including the Branch Line of Puri, by 23-01-1902. Accordingly, the working of the PLR was taken over by the Bengal-Nagpur Railway in 1902. In the first few years, the PLR had incurred losses but after 1910, it started making marginal profits and after 1924-25, the profits increased. This motivated the Raja to extend the line to Gunupur in two phases in 1929 and 1931. There were now a total of ten stations between Naupada and Gunupur. Tekkali, Paddasan, Temburu, Ganguvada, Patapatnam, Paralakhemedi, Kashinagar, Lihuri, Bansidhara and Palasingi.

The management of BNR was taken over by the Government of India in October 1944. On 14-04-1952, at the time of the re-grouping of the Indian Railways it became part of the Eastern Railway. The merger of B.N.R. into Eastern Railway, however, did not last long and on 01-08-1955 it was merged with newly constituted South Eastern Railway. During the SER centenary celebrations in 1987, set of four postage stamps were released. One of the stamps featured the PL 691 locomotive.

The standard type of locomotive on PLR was the 20 ton 0-6-4 tank locomotive with small (27 inch diameter) coupled wheels and an axle load of only 4.75 tons. …

The foundation-stone was finally laid for the Naupada-Gunupur gauge conversion work at Naupada on September 27, 2002. With effect from April 1, 2003, PLR became a part of the newly formed East Coast Railway. The line was finally closed for gauge conversion on June 9, 2004.

Courtesy National Rail Museum

Purabi Das writes on Cuttack

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Following are excerpts from her article in DNA.

… Years later reading Suketu Mehta’s paean to Bombay, I was drawn back to the moment, for Cuttack is a 1000 years old, truly a millennium city.

The great Barbati fort whose ancient stone ramparts encircle the city in a broken embrace was built around 989 AD by the Keshari dynasty. …

Squeezed on a tongue of land between the two great rivers, Mahanadi and Kathjodi, like any city worth its salt Cuttack soon outgrew its location and acquired a unique ethos.

… Cuttack is its Sahis and Gallis, its babulok and its rickshaws, its lingo with the tangy undercurrent of irony, its Durga Puja and Bali Jatra, kite flying on the sands of Kathjodi, and mouthwatering Dahi Vada Alu Dum. Cuttack is where Subhash Bose was born, where Hari Prasad tuned his flute and Mayadhar Mansingh found his romantic muse. Its moonlight on the Mahanadi, packed houses to Annapurna theatre and 20-20 at Barbati stadium.

… A Mumbai chawl might be an equivalent of the Kataki Sahi but unlike its mammoth big sister, Cuttack knows no riots. Cuttack Chandi, the city’s patron goddess coexists with Qadam-e-Rasool, the seat of political authority of the Moslems of Orissa in centuries of harmony.

… They say that whoever has not gorged on Raghu’s Dahi Vada Aloo Dum has not yet sampled Cuttack . For these urad dal fritters in yogurt sauce with spicy gravy potatoes can tempt the taste buds to distraction. Come evening cars from around a fifty kilometer radius line up for his fare. Raghu is now the stuff of business school curricula like Mumbai’s dabbawallahs! …

Excavation at Sishupalgarh

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Update: Times of India also writes about it with headlines "2,500 years ago, a city bigger than Athens in Orissa" and "Lost city had all urban amenities." See also this Telegraph report.

Following is an excerpt from a report in Hindu.

Researchers involved in excavation at the ancient city of Sisupalgarh on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar have come across a number of artefacts and structures that throw light on the existence of a flourishing urban life during the pre-historic period.


The geophysical research showed large-scale patterns of subsurface architecture such as streets, which were visible linking the gateways in the interior of the site, and a large ancient perimeter area around the pillar zone, said R.K. Mohanty of the Pune-based Deccan College and Monica L. Smith of the University of California here on Thursday.

These researchers, with the help of students from different universities and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), began their work in 2000, about 50 years after the first excavation.

After several deep trenches, they have now exposed 18 previously unknown pillars and several associated structures on a mound within the fortification wall.

Sisupalgarh was absolutely visible through naked eyes as well as from the space and this could be one of its kinds of cultural heritage in the whole of eastern India, the researchers claimed.

“It seemed to be a large city, which could have been governed under one ruler. The ancient population inhabiting the place was estimated to be 25,000,” said Mr. Mohanty, an archaeologist.

“The civilisation could have lasted for more than 1,000 years between 3rd BC and 3rd AD,” he said.

Researchers worked on the place adjacent to a “majestic gate” excavated by Prof B.B. Lal in 1950. They found house foundations of laterite block architecture. The habitation areas also contained very large quantities of household pottery such as bowls and jars along with other household artefacts such as iron nails and terracotta ornaments including bangles, finger rings, pendants and ear spools.

Pointing out that the latest debris deposits and pillars indicated that it was meant for public use, Ms. Smith said the ancient artisans at Sisupalgarh were manufacturing potteries massively and those were in rapid use.

“It suggested that the people, animals and trash were closely integrated in the crowded space of the city. …

Anandpur, Keonjhar in Orissa history: Samaja op-ed

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J. B. Patnaik’s contribution to Orissa – in his words

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Following are excerpts from a Kalinga Times article where former union minister and former Chief Minister of Orissa J. B. Patnaik talks about his contributions to Orissa.

… I had shifted the naval training centre from Visakhapatnam to Chilika. And the Army Air Defence College was shifted from Deorali in Maharashtra to Gopalpur where a cantonment was established in fulfillment of a long-standing demand over several years. An ordnance factory was set up in Titilagarh in Balangir district. An arms factory was set up in Koraput. …

There were no direct train services from Bhubaneswar to New Delhi . There was also no direct air connectivity as well. In 1980, Nilachal Express was stared between Delhi and Bhubaneswar . Direct flights were also introduced. A long railway track initiated to connect Jakhapura-Bansapani and bring benefits for vast tracts of Keonjhar district has been completed this year. To link western Orissa with coastal Orissa, Talcher-Sambalpur railway track was undertaken. Rayagada-Koraput railway line was built to connect Rayagada–Koraput with Visakhapatnam . A new railway division was established at Sambalpur and a new zone (East Coast) was created.

…When I was Union Minister, I had demanded that tourism be declared an industry. When it was not granted, as Chief Minister of Orissa I declared the hotel business as an industry. Later the Central government accepted my decision. As a result, many quality hotels were built in the state. Hoteliers like the Oberois came to Bhubaneswar …

Adjacent to Bhubaneswar city, the Chandaka Elephant Sanctuary was established. For the protection of wildlife, Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary was established along with many other sanctuaries in the state. Puri-Bhubaneswar and Konark were declared a Golden triangle for tourism and Konark-Puri Marine Drive ‘s construction also made this entire area very attractive for the tourism sector. Many such programmes were undertaken to boost tourism in the state.

The state capital of Bhubaneswar was a small city of government employees and its population was one lakh only. The area and nature of the city was transformed. Bhubaneswar became a hub of industrial development and a prominent business and trade centre. Chandaka, Mancheswar, Rasulgarh industrial estates and the newly developed Nayapalli-Chandrasekharpur areas were in for rapid expansion. Parks such as Indira Gandhi Park , Mahatma Gandhi Park and Forest Park were developed in the capital city. Kalinga stadium, construction of a deep lake for water sports in it, the expansion of roads, the beautification of the city with electric lamps, Samanta Chandrasekhar Planetarium, Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies, Harekrushna Mahatab State Library, Kalinga Studio, Odissi Research Centre for development of Odissi song and dance, Xavier Institute of Management for high quality management education, National Institute of Physics, massive plantation programmes to make a green Bhubaneswar, a plant resource centre park for cultivation and propagation of rare cacti were the efforts taken to turn Bhubaneswar into a modern and attractive city. Earlier it was like a small village and without proper attire, it would not attract attention. The state capital should be wholesomely beautiful.

… In 1980, Orissa was the most backward state in the field of agriculture. It is the same way even now. In 1980, a massive effort was undertaken. For a long time, per hectare yield of paddy in Orissa was a mere one tonne, in 1980 it rose by 40 per cent and the yield became 1.4 tonne. The groundnut yield per hectare was two tonnes and from the productivity point of view, it was the highest in the country. The fertilizer yield was improved from only 6 kg per hectare to 22 kg in the year. Of the agricultural land, only 19 percent could benefit from the irrigation system and it rose to 28 percent and by 2000, it grew up to 33 percent. Canal irrigation, tube wells, lift irrigation facilities were increased and creek irrigation facilities were introduced for the first time. Like this, 15 percent additional land could be irrigated and Orissa could be brought into a state of self-reliance.

For the first time, agriculture was accorded the status of an industry in the state and revolutionary agriculture policies were adopted. This enables aid and cooperation to flow in for the farmers just like the industrialists could avail various kinds of benefits and cooperation. Like IPICOL for the industrial sector, APICOL was formed for the agricultural sector. A sum of Rs 20 lakh was allotted for cold storage facilities by the state government.

… In 1980 when the Congress party came to power, the electricity yield capacity in Orissa was very low; it was only 373 megawatts. To improve the scenario, many hydro electricity projects and thermal power plants were constructed. The Orissa Power Generation Corporation and Ib thermal power unit were formed to produce 820 MW in the state. And the Union government also established a 3,000 MW Super Thermal Power Plant. In the later years, India’s the first ever power sector reforms were undertaken in the State. This resulted in putting Orissa’s name as a ‘surplus electricity generating’ state and within 20 years the rate of electricity production became more than six percent higher than in 1980.

There was no environment for industrial development in Orissa then. Except a handful of industries, no one came forward to become an industrialist. That is why attractive industrial plans were formulated to bring about a revolution change in the field. “Rs 1000 crore in 1000 days and 1000 industries.” Whatever was promised came true. Big industries like NALCO in Damanjodi and Angul, Paradeep Phosphates in Paradip, Birla Tyres in Balasore, and FACOR in Bhadrak are some of the big industrial houses apart from numerous small and medium sized industrial units. Chandaka and Rasulgarh in Bhubaneswar , Jagatpur in Cuttack , Balasore, and Kolunga in Rourkela , Jharsuguda, and industrial estate in Balangir were the new industrial units set up. Nine spinning mills, five sugar mills, two oil mills, and many agricultural product mills were prominent among them. Sewa Paper Mills in Koraput, Mangalam Timbers in Nawarangpur, Nicco Cables in Baripada, Powmax Steel in Titilagarh, Orissa Sponge in Keonjhar, Ipitata, Utkal Asbestos in Dhenkanal, Nilachal Ispat Nigam in Jajpur, Oswal fertilizers, Paradip Oil Refinery in Paradip and Software Technology Park in Bhubaneswar, Fortune Towers were also established.

Most of the industrialists who have established themselves in the small and medium industries are Oriya. The creation of a favourable environment for industrialisation in the state has made this happen and a strong team of Oriya industrialists have created a suitable environment for rapid industrialisation in the state. The reports prepared by the Nabakrushna Choudhury Institute and the Planning Commission of the Union Government indicate that during that time Orissa made spectacular advancement in the industrial sector and by 2000 Orissa had became an important destination for capital investment.

For the development of sports, many sports schools were also established in the state from football to hockey. Those sports personnel who earned laurels for themselves and international fame for their state have emerged from the sports institutes.

My Comments: Mr. JB Patnaik definitely has made some good contributions to Orissa. But I wonder if he is being clever in the above piece and indirectly claiming a lot more to be his contributions. Earlier we had listed some of Biju Patnaik’s contribution to Orissa during 1961-67.