2007-10-13 - Ratnagiri
The Buddhist monuments at Ratnagiri are one of the true highlights of ancient India. While well known in Tibetan Buddhist sources as a center of Tantric Buddhism (and on par with Nalanda university), it wasn't until the 1950s that the Archaeological Survey of India was able to locate and excavate this impressive site. It consists of a large stupa (surrounded by countless small votive stupas) and two rectangular monasteries. The first monastery has the highlight of Ratnagiri right at the entrance -- a greenish entrance door frame (superbly carved out of chlorite). Due to this door, this set of pictures even has a color photo. In addition there are numerous statues of the Buddha and misc. Bodhisattvas, including colossal Buddha statues in the inner sanctum.

Ratnagiri was established in the 5th century, and construction continued until the 13th century. While in decline by the end of the 13th centrury, the Buddhist sangha continued to exist until the 16th century. During the excavations by the ASI (1958-1961), clay seals with the name "Sri Ratnagiri Mahavihariya Arya Bhikshu Samghasya" were found, clearly identifying this site as the Ratnagiri of the Tibetan sources.
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