The Lalitgiri Buddhist complex. It was first documented in 1927. Wikimedia Commons
Remains of a Buddhist vihara at Lalitgiri, Mahanga. Twitter
But despite being an archaeologically important place for Buddhism, there was not a proper museum either at the site or nearby Mahanga. It is only now that the Odisha government has taken the initiative to construct a museum at Lalitgiri.
The under-construction museum at Lalitgiri, Mahanga. Twitter
Reviewed progress of museum at Lalitgiri heritage site in Mahanga. Its strongroom will house a relic of the Buddha 🙏 pic.twitter.com/kDHb3EbG1U — Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) March 30, 2016
Reviewed progress of museum at Lalitgiri heritage site in Mahanga. Its strongroom will house a relic of the Buddha 🙏 pic.twitter.com/kDHb3EbG1U
— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) March 30, 2016
Panda (bottom right) talking with authorities involved in the construction project. Twitter
A relic of the Buddha is any part of his body – tooth, hair or even bones. After the death of the Buddha, his body parts and ashes were distributed between eight ruling kingdoms.
With the passage of time, the places where the relics were kept fell to ruin. Ashoka the Great collected all the relics and redistributed them in 84,000 stupas.
A tooth relic of the Buddha in Thailand.Wikimedia Commons
Transfer through diplomatic or religious channels, invasions and smuggling led to many relics crossing the shores of Indian sub-continent and reach those of at least 20 countries including United States.
There are many Buddhist stupas and pagodas in India that contain one or the other relics of the Buddha.
A relic of the Buddha at the National Museum in New Delhi. Wikimedia Commons
At Lalitgiri, a casket containing the bones of the Buddha was recovered from a stone stupa on the hill. The same will be placed inside the strongroom.