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The Great Tradition

The Great Tradition

Endowed by nature’s bounty, vast stretches of clean and virgin beaches, serpentine rivers, breath taking water falls, ragged hills, miles and miles of rolling forests, lush green country sides, cute wildlife, colourful tribes and rural beauties, Odisha, the eastern State of India, is still richer by its great tradition of architecture, monuments and sculptural art.

Traditionally archaeology and monuments have been the prime motivation for a visitor to Odisha who usually returns with enchanting experience, enduring thoughts and lingering memories of an endearing and hospitable Odia people, their picturesque land and above all the magnificent monuments. For tourists interested in built heritage, this ancient land of Odisha offers its rich and varied archaeological treasures and wealth of monuments in a pristine and fortunately intact form. The entire length ad breadth of the state is dotted with a large number of standing monuments and archaeological sites which would be around 4000- in figure. The range of monuments include early Jaina caves and temples; Buddhist Viharas (Monasteries), chaityas (apsidal structures), stupas; Hindu temples; mosques; churches; ancient and medieval forts; palaces of erstwhile kings and the colonial architecture.

The great tradition of monument building which is as old as the recorded history or even older, finds an echo in the religious and cultural life of the people till today.

When we turn the pages of history, we are confronted with the great Kalinga War of Ashok, in the third century B.C. which formed a turning point in his life, in the history of Buddhism as well as in the history of Odisha. It is difficult to know the pre-Asokan culture that survived the holocaust of the Great War but it is definite that occupation of ancient Odisha by Ashoka gave a boost to Odishan art and architecture. We do not come across any monuments in Odisha which can be dated beyond the third century B.C. But from that time, we have a long range of monuments which cover a period of about two thousand years and present a varied and interesting study. Different ruling dynasties from early times, vied with each other in building more and more monuments in the religious centers of their kingdom. All the above explain the survival of an enormous number of standing monuments in the State of Odisha, one of the highest in the country by any standard. It has been truly observed that there are perhaps more temples now in Odisha than in all the rest of India put together.