Sirpur (erstwhile Shripura) is a tiny hamlet located on the banks of River Mahanadi, approximately 80 km from Raipur. It boasts archaeological remains associated with Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. Excavations have revealed ruins of ancient structures across the village area, out of which the Buddhist viharas are believed to be older than even the famed Nalanda University, in Bihar. 

Tourists can also find a multitude of temples and monasteries, the most important of which are Lakshman Temple, Gandheswara Temple, Swastika Vihara and Anandaprabhu Kutir Vihara.

 The Lakshman Temple, featuring Gupta architecture, is believed to date back to the 7th century and is one of the most beautiful brick temples in India. In 1872, British army officer and archaeologist Alexander Cunningham visited some of these monuments and published his findings, especially about the Lakshman Temple and its beautiful and intricate carvings. This resulted in the place gaining international recognition. The temple faces the east and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It stands on a massive platform that is accessible from the north and the south by steps. The temple has a garbh graha (sanctum sanctorum), an antarala (a small antechamber between the sanctum and the hall)  and a mandapa (pillared outdoor hall). Another highlight is the popular Sirpur Music and Dance Festival organised in the premises every January.

There are many Buddhist sites to explore and one can start from the most noted one, the Buddh Vihar, which is known for its beautiful carvings  that narrate stories about life back then. The biggest monastery in Sirpur is Teevardev Maha Vihara, around a kilometre, from the Lakshman Temple.

During recent excavations, 12 Buddhist viharas, one Jain vihara, monolithic statues of Lord Buddha and Lord Mahavira along with 22 Lord Shiva and five Lord Vishnu temples and an underground granary market have also been found. 

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