These fascinating Buddhist ruins, the oldest of which date back to around 200 BC, are the remnants of one of India’s earliest mahaviharas (Buddhist monasteries, which were, effectively, the universities of their day). Pusphagiri Mahavihara had three campuses – Ratnagiri, Udayagiri and Lalitgiri – each built upon a small hilltop in the low-lying Langudi Hills. The Kelua River provided a scenic backdrop, and these days supports small farming communities and their mud-and-thatch villages, which dot the rural landscape.
If you start early, it’s possible to visit the area in a day trip by bus from Bhubaneswar, but having your own wheels or staying overnight in one of the villages gives you the chance to explore each of the three sites properly. Stop by the excellent museum at Ratnagiri first, as it puts the three sites into context.