Monastery 1

Ratnagiri, 7th - 11th century
Orissa, near Bhubaneshwar

The Buddhist complex atop the hill of Ratnagiri (map) was once an important Buddhist university, visited by the Chinese traveler Xuan Zong in 639 AD. It contains three monasteries, a temple, a large stupa, and numerous smaller structures. This photograph shows the entrance to Monastery 1, the largest in the complex. Originally the building had two stories, although the upper one has now disappeared. The entrance faces south, and leads to a green chlorite doorway (center of photo). Within is a large courtyard, surrounded by monks' cells. The principal shrine contains a large Buddha image and is located off the north side of the courtyard. A number of fine sculptures are kept on site and in the local museum, the remainder being distributed to museums in Bhubaneshwar and Calcutta.

The original brick structure dates to the 7th/8th century, while the stone facing on the walls and interior is from a later rebuilding. The complex fell out of use from the 12th century onward, when Buddhism disappeared from India under the twin pressures of Muslim invasion and Hindu resurgence.