Lalitgiri is a small village under the Mahanga tehsil in Cuttack district of Odisha. It is an important place of Buddhist heritage.
Remains of stupas, viharas, and sculptures, excavated during the British period, dot the landscape.
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.
Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda posted a Tweet informing us that the construction work is progressing well.
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
Once completed, Panda informs, the museum will house a relic of the Buddha inside a strongroom.
What is a relic?
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.
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.
Bone relics of the Buddha are located in the Gopala Vipassana Pagoda in Mumbai and also at the National Museum at Delhi.
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.