In a remarkable development, Odisha has found a touristy gem near Daya River Valley in Puri. Archaeologists reportedly discovered a Buddhist relic in the form of an elephant, as old as 2,300 years old, in the region, believed to have Buddhism as the main religion back then. The elephant has been carved from a single piece of rock against the ancient river's backdrop.
The approximately 3-foot-tall elephant symbolises sentinel or a stone guardian, offering visitors a glimpse of a bygone era. However, what adds to the magnificence of the elephant statue is its similarity with other Buddhist statues of elephants in the river valley.
This rock-sculpted elephant was reportedly found at the Gada Balabhadrapur village by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) in June this year. The artefact bears testament to the deep-rooted significance of the elephant in Buddhist teachings. Their essence is also quoted in the Buddhist scripture 'Udana' (heartfelt sayings). Quoting Buddha, Udana mentions, "In the quiet solitude of the forests, the spiritual giant finds solace, as does the mighty elephant." The legend also goes that Lord Buddha, in his previous births, was incarnated as an elephant.
Where Else To Spot Elephant Statues In Odisha
The Buddhist elephant statues are reportedly found across the Daya River Valley. However, the latest sculpture resembles the most with the elephants seen in Dhauli, about 12 kilometres from Gada Balabhadrapur village. Referred to as monolithic statues, these elephants are intricately carved from a single stone or rock.
With this finding, archaeologists plan to dig into the area further to see whether or not there are more such sculptures reflective of Buddhist culture that once dominated the river valley. The endeavour aims to trace the era of Buddha's teachings during the reign of Emperor Ashoka, which besides India, pervaded Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh.
Nearby Attractions To Explore In Puri
Shree Jagannath Temple Puri  Dedicated to Lord Jagannath, a form of Lord Vishnu, it attracts millions of pilgrims and tourists annually. The temple's architecture is impressive, and it hosts the annual Rath Yatra, a grand chariot festival.
Puri Beach Puri Beach is a picturesque stretch of coastline along the Bay of Bengal. It offers a serene and relaxing environment for tourists to enjoy the sea breeze and beautiful sunrises. The beach is also known for its bustling markets and various water activities.
Konark Sun Temple Located about 35 km from Puri, the Konark Sun Temple is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Odisha. Shaped like a colossal chariot with intricately carved wheels, the temple is dedicated to the sun god, Surya. Its architectural brilliance and historical significance make it a must-visit site.
Chilika Lake Chilika Lake, Asia's largest brackish water lagoon, lies near Puri. It is a haven for migratory birds, particularly during winter, and serves as a wildlife sanctuary.
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