Lalitgiri, Orissa, is the earliest Buddhist complex in Orissa built on a sandstone hill. It is a popular tourist destination and pilgrimage site for its enormous brick monasteries, the ruined Chaitya Hall, stone stupas and the museum that is home to statues of Buddha, scrolls and other Buddhist relics.
The majestic ruins of the huge brick monastery, the remains of the chaitya hall, a number of votive stupas and a renovated stone stupa at the apex of a small rugged sandstone hill dominate the rural greenery around.
In addition, the museum displays a huge number of Mahayana sculptures consisting of colossal Buddha figures, huge Boddhisattva statues, statues of Tara, Jambhala and others.
Interestingly, most of these sculptures contain short inscriptions on them. The Standing Buddha figures, with knee length draperies over the shoulders remind one of the influences of the Gandhara and Mathura school of art.
This also carries to mind the fact of Prajna, who had come from Takshasila to ancient Orissa to learn the philosophy of Yoga. He later left for China in the eigth century A.D. with an autographed manuscript of the Buddhist text Gandavyuha, from the then Orissan king Sivakara Deva 1, to the Chinese Emperor Te-tsong.
The discovery of caskets containing sacred relics, probably of the Tathagata himself, from the stone stupa at the top of the hill, further enhances the sacredness of the stupa as well as of Lalitgiri for Buddhists around the world. It also brings to mind the description of Hiuen T'sang, the famed Chinese traveller of the seventh century A D, about the magnificent stupa on top of a hill at Puspagiri Mahavihara which emitted a brilliant light because of its sacredness. " On the basis of archaeological materials including inscriptions brought to light by excavation, Langudi hill in Jajpur district may be identified as Puspagiri."