The Gautama Buddha, who was born in a noble family at Kapilvastu as Prince Siddhartha, got enlightened at Bodhgaya and offered his first preaching at Sarnath. This made these places in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar some of the renowned Buddhist destinations. And it was the Buddha's teachings which made Orissa famous Buddhist site. Signs of wealthy culture and history in terms of Buddhism clearly reflect through the Orissa Buddhist trail and sites.
Two merchants of Utkal Tapassu and Bhallika became the first lay disciples of Lord Buddha, as per early Vinaya texts. Eight handfuls of his hairs were what Buddha gave them, getting rice cake and honey in return from them. Later on, the merchants deposited the heirs in a stupa (kesa Stupa) in their native place Asitanjana. The excavations done in Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udayagiri by Archaeological Survey of India revealed the wealthy Orissa Buddhist Heritage related to the early Christian era of 15th-16th century AD.
On account of some popular legends among the people, it is indicated that the ancient region housed a rich Buddhist tradition, including the tooth relic of the Buddha that Orissa Buddhist Heritage Site has preserved. The religion bloomed in the state in its fullest in the era, as per the literacy references, myths and historical data available. In the result of the Kalinga battle taken place in 261 BC, Emperor Ashoka, who conquered Kalinga, understood the gloomiest side of a battle, left the company of weapons and started following the path of non-violence. Subsequently expressing his concerns about peace of the world, the King accepted Buddhism and publicized the religion in the Kalinga region of Orissa by constructing numerous stupa and other sculptures there.
It is believed that the Buddhism have been flowered in 8th to 10th century AD during the period of Bhaumakara Dynasty. And at the time, Buddhism touched its peak. As accounted in inscriptions, during the period, a ruler of Bhaumakara dynasty copied a Mahayana Buddhist text 'Gandavyuha' and gifted it to a rural in China. It is also accounted by Chinese travelers Hieun Tsang and Fa- Hian also mentioned in their written works that all the Buddhist schools like Mahayana and Hinayana blossomed in their fullest during the same period. As believed by the Buddhist scholars, Orissa was the hub of various types of Tantric Buddhism like Vajrayana, Kalachakrayanaand Sahajayana, adding significantly to the growth of Tantric Buddhism and having notable interaction with Tibetan Tantric School.
A number of Buddhist stupa and other sculptures have been excavated in the Orissa Buddhist Heritage Site which consists of Ratnagiri-Udayagiri-Lalitgiri and closeby areas like Langudi Hills.