A blog discussing life and things in Odisha
by S Balakrishnan

Kuruma: A Buddhist Shrine Close to Konark

Situated at a distance of 8 kms to the south-east of the famous Sun Temple at Konark in the district of Puri is the ancient Buddhist site of Kuruma. The aerial view of the site shows a modern temple that has three Buddhist images those have been structured as the crowned Buddha seated in mudras namely, Bhumisparsa, Padmapani Avalokitesvara and Revanta. The local residents worship these three statues collectively in the form of ‘Yamadharma’.

Excavation of the Site

Kuruma is the only Buddhist monastery near the coast of Odisha, and so would have been a sfe haven for sea travellers during the ancient times.

During the 7th and 8th century Kuruma reached its peak which was the time when the famous Chinese traveller Hiuen T’sang also known as Xuanzang visited Kuruma.

Dharma Buddha
Dharma Buddha (courtesy Odisha Tourism)
Dharma Pokhari
Dharma Pokhari (courtesy Odisha Tourism)

In the year 1972, Brajabandhu Dash, a local school teacher had collected numerous rich antiquities. This was subsequently followed by the excavations of the Orissa State Archaeology Department in 1974-75. A stone slab containing the beautiful figure of Buddha was lying on the bank of Dharma Pokhari (tank) which came into limelight prior to the excavation of the site.

As time progressed, this slab was removed and enshrined in a newly constructed shed. In addition to the Buddha image, two more images were also found which were also placed alongside the first image. Among these, one of the images was of ‘Heruka’ which have been identified as ‘Dharma’ (the Sun God) and ‘Yama’ (the Death God).

Earlier, in 1960, the tank had been extensively excavated by governmental aid wherein ‘Dhyani Buddha’ image was recovered. This very image is now preserved in the Odisha State Museum.

Remains of a cell at the excavation site
Remains of a cell at the excavation site (courtesy Rangan Datta, WordPress)

The excavation site covers about 34 square meters. Today we can see the basic structure of the monastery and the steps of the stupa. The structure itself used to have 12 cells for the monks and 3 rectangular masonary ovens. Lots of pottery, coins, palm leaf manuscripts were recovered, but they are actually preserved in the Odisha State Museum in Bhubaneshwar.

When to Visit

The winter months from October to March are probably the best time to visit Kuruma. During this time frame, the weather remains pleasantly cool which makes sightseeing easy in the region.

Nearest Places of Tourist Attraction

  • Shree Jagannath Temple:  Shree Jagannath Temple, one of the parts of Hindu pilgrimage circuit of Char Dhams is one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in Odisha. The Jagannath Temple is located at a distance of 51 km from Kurum.
  • Konark Sun Temple: Located just at a distance of 8 km from Kuruma is the Konark Sun Temple, an incredible monument of religious importance which traces its history from the 13th century.
  • Puri Beach: The distance between Puri Beach and Kuruma is only 43 km. This beach is undoubtedly one of the star tourist places of Odisha. Considered as one of the ideal destinations, this beach is the one stop place for people who want to spend some relaxing hours amid the sublime nature.
  • Chandrabhaga Beach: Chandrabhaga Beach which is located at a distance of 10 km from Kuruma which is another coastal stretch with a religious significance in the Puri district.

How to Reach Kuruma

By Air:The nearest airport is the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar which is located at a distance of 68kms from Kuruma.

By Train: The nearest railway station from Kuruma is the Puri Railway Station located 43 kms from the site.

By Road: Kuruma is located on the Konark- Kakatpur road, 8kms southeast of Konark Sun temple. From there one can hire taxis or bus to reach Kuruma. Sadly, there is no public transport available.

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