One among the major centers of Buddhism in Odisha in Birupa-Chitrotpala valley of Cuttack District is 90 km away from Dhenkanal Palace. Lalitgiri is one of the earliest Buddhist sites of Orissa and shows the cultural continuity right from the post Mauryan period to 13th century A.D.

The archaeological treasures of the hills and its vicinity were first brought to light in 1905 and the site was declared a centrally protected monument in the year 1937. Between 1985-1991 excavations revealed the remains of a massive stupa. Inside the stupa were two relic caskets kept in a container made of Khondalite stone, arranged in the manner of a Chinese puzzle box within the stone container, a steatite, a silver and a gold casket inside one another were recovered. The inner-most gold casket contained what is considered the relic or dhatu in the form of a small fragment of bone of the Buddha.

Majority of the sculptures unearthed from excavation are the figures of Buddha in different postures belonging to Mahayanistic phase of Buddhism.

Apart from these, inscribed potsherds belonging to different time spans post Mauryan period to 8th-9th century A.D. suggest that Lalitagiri was under occupation by the both Hinayana and Mahayana sects.


It 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. Tibetan history identifies Ratnagiri as an important center in the development of the Kalachakratantra in the 10th century CE. A large number of clay sealing, found during excavations, bearing the legend Shri Ratnagiri Mahavihariya Arya Bhikshu Samghasya have helped in identifying the name of Ratnagiri monastery.

Excavations yielded the remains of an impressive Stupa (Stupa 1) surrounded by a large number of votive Stupas of varying dimensions, two quadrangular monasteries (Monasteries 1 and 2), a single-winged huge monastery with beautiful carved doorjamb and lintel, spacious open courtyard, cells and verandah facing the courtyard with a spacious sanctum enshrining a colossal Buddha.


It is situated in a depression between two valleys. In the excavations done during the period between 1985–86 and 1989–90, at the Udayagiri Site 2, the antiquities exposed consisted of a Buddhist Monastic complex enclosed within a compound wall, including a stupa of 7 metres (23 ft) height with four images of dhyani Buddhas fixed at its four cardinal points. On the basis of the epigraphical evidence archaeologist have inferred that this site is 'Madhavapura Mahavihara', and two eighth century monastic complexes, statues of Buddha, Tara, Manjusri, Avalokitesvara, Jatamukuta Lokesvara and many terracotta (earthenware) seals and a stepped stone well with epigraphic inscriptions has also been discovered.