Odisha is full of archaeological treasures dating from the pre-historic times upto the end of the Muslim rule in the middle of the sixteenth century. The excavations at Sisupalgarh and Jaugada testify to the presence of a highly developed pre-historic civilisation in Odisha.
The caves of Khandagiri and Udayagiri represent Odisha cave architecture dating back to the first century BC. The caves were cut out in the solid rock on the orders of King Kharavela for the use of Jaina ascetics. There are altogether eighteen caves in Udayagiri and fifteen caves in Khandagiri. The caves are decorated with sculptural motifs. The Ranigumpha cave in Udayagiri is a two-storeyed structure and bears highly artistic sculpture. The caves consist of one or more cells and a few of them are fronted by pillared verandahs. The sculptures of Khandagiri and Udayagiri form a landmark in the history of Indian art. They present a vivid picture of the contemporary society and occupy an important place in the rock-out architecture of India.
Like Jainism, Buddhism also provided inspiration for the development of art and architecture. It was Emperor Asoka who directed the entire state machinery for the dissemination of Buddhism. We find two versions of his major rock in Odisha one at Dhauli and the other at Jaugada. The archaeological excavations at Ratnagiri have brought to light the remains of a main stupa, two viharas and eight temples containing Buddhist images. A large number of images of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas of great artistic merit have been collected from the hills of Lalitgiri, Olashuni, Landa and Parabhadi hills. A colossal image of Bodhisattva Padmapani has been found at Jajpur it measures 15’8″ inches. Buddhist remains have also been discovered at Boudh, Khiching and Solampur. It is seen that the Lalitgiri sculptures contain the living influence of Gupta art tradition