Location of Tarapur
The town of Tarapur is located in the Indian state of Odisha, on the eastern coast of India. Three stupas (edicts) put up by Emperor Asoka, have been discovered at Tarapur recently.
Archaeological Findings at Tarapur
The prominence of Buddhism in Odisha has been witnessed from the excavations of Tarapur Buddhist Site. Several plain railing pillars and cross bars have also been discovered by the Tarapur excavation. Visitors can spot inscriptions on five of these sculptures - some in Bramhi and others in proto-Oriya and Oriya script.
Legend of Tarapur
As per the Buddhist text - ‘Anguttara Nikaya’, two merchants of Utkala, Tapassu and Bhallika with 500 trading carts were moving towards ‘Madhayadesa’. They visited Lord Buddha on the last day of week seven after he got Enlightenment at Bodhgaya. Buddha gave them 8 handfuls of his hairs, getting rice cake and honey in return from them. Later on, the merchants deposited the hairs in a stupa ‘Kesa Stupa’; in their native place Asitanjana. Two merchants of Utkala, Tapassu and Bhallika became the first lay disciples of Lord Buddha, as per early Vinaya texts.
The ‘Kesa Stupa’ at Tarapur Buddhist Site is believed to be the first of its type in Buddhism. With the identification of this stupa, it is presumed that Tapassu himself constructed the stupa in 6th or 5th century BC.
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