Antique Buddhist sculptures found in Odisha

PTI, May 26, 2013

Kendrapara, India -- Antique Buddhist sculptures comprising monolithic and votive divinities have been found near a cremation ground in a remote village in Odisha's Kendrapara district, known for its rich Buddhist legacy.

The two antique pieces are of 4.6 foot and 3.6 foot in length and were found lying close to the cremation ground at Sadanandapur village by researchers.

Researcher Harish Chandra Prusty said the sculptures date to the 11th century AD when Bhaumakara dynasty ruled the then Kalingan Empire.

The stone-cut sculptures are strikingly similar to those unearthed and preserved in Buddhist heritage sites of Udaygiri and Langudi in Jajpur district, he said.

The village is also not far from Lalitgiri-Ratnagiri-Udaygiri Buddhist heritage sites.

"We found the sculpture pieces during a visit to the village on May 24. The locals were not aware of their antique value of the stone objects. However, the sculptures have not been vandalised. Locals have not damaged it," he said.

"The discovery of Buddhist sculptures bears ample testimony of the rich history of the place. It needs to be protected as there is every likelihood of more discoveries of rock-cut sculptures from these places. State archaeology department and Archeology Survey of India should take steps to conserve and save it," said archaeologist Bijoy Kumar Rath.

Buddhism flourished in Odisha under Bhaumakaras and Somvamshis during 7th to 11th Century AD and declined with the fall of these dynasties. There are innumerable sites in both Kendrapara and Jajpur district which have treasures of Buddhist heritage and legacy but are still unexplored.

"We had spotted the sculptures in the past. But nobody knew their historical significance. People are glad to know of the chance-discovery of Buddhist sculptures from their village," said Ajaya Bebarata, a local resident.