Archaeological Survey of India takes over Orissa Buddhist site

IANS, Nov 17, 2006

Bhubaneswar, India -- Orissa has handed over an ancient Buddhist site to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for better conservation, an official said Friday.

Top officials of the state culture department and state archaeology department handed over the Langudi hill, a famous Buddhist site, about 90 km from here in the coastal district of Jajpur to the ASI as the site is of national importance and requires better conservation, secretary of state cultural department Gopinath Mohanty told IANS.

The site hit the headlines nine years ago when several historians and archaeologists identified it as Puspagiri Mahavihar, one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries mentioned by Chinese traveller Hiuen Tsang, who visited Odra (Orissa) in 639 AD.

Orissa Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies (OIMSEAS) earlier excavated the site and also unearthed a series of rock-cut Buddhist 'stupas' and many early medieval Buddhist monuments and shrines.

However, the site had been lying neglected due to paucity of funds. Now under the care of the ASI, we hope it will be a major Buddhist site in the country, Mohanty said.

The district administration handed over 143 acres of lands in the Langudi hillock and its nearby areas to ASI Thursday, he said.

The administration will also acquire another 13 acres of private land from the locals after paying them proper compensation to develop the region as a place of national importance, Mohanty said.

Orissa has a host of ancient Buddhist sites, including Ratnagiri, Udaygiri, Lalitgiri, Kuruma, Brahmavana, Langudi and Ganiapali.

Excavators have found large domes, monasteries, sculptures and other objects of archaeological importance at these sites. The team's finding is based on research carried out at these venues.