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Dhauli and The Rock Edicts of Ashoka – History talks about #Odisha #Dhauli #Buddhist #Travel #Tourism #Ashoka – Article by Gaurab Tripathi

Dhauli hill is located at a distance of about 8 KMs from Bhubaneswar. Along the banks of River Daya stands the white buddhist Stupa.

History on Dhauli and The Rock Edicts of Ashoka :

Ashoka(means “painless, without sorrow”)(304–232 BCE), was son of the Mauryan emperor Bindusara and was the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya. During his reign, Mauryan empire had the largest expansion which include present day India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and some parts of Sri Lanka. He was believed to be a barbarous man, who proclaimed himself as the worthy king by killing all his brothers. He had a hunger of expanding his empire at the cost of anything. Therefore he was also known as “Chand-Ashoka”(Chand=Cruel). He had a huge army and rarely any king challenged him in war.

Chandragupta Maurya's empire, the first Indian empire. The top & bottom tips are due to friendly relations, but Kalinga was definitely an eyesore to the empire


                       Kalinga (present day Odisha) was a small state where people believed in democracy instead of Rajdharma, which was in a way a unique thing at that time in India. They were believed to be glorious and prosperous region consisting of freedom loving and artistic skilled people. They were also the first in India to have done the trade with south east over the sea. Kalinga was under Magadha control during the Nanda rule, but regained independence with the beginning of the rule of the Mauryas. By regaining Kalinga, Mauryan empire would have benefitted from both territorial and political (trade) side.

The Kalinga War:

         It was the 261 BC, the 8th year of Ashoka’s reign. He attacked with an army of about 20 times (60,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry, 700 war elephants) of the size of Kalinga. To confront such a huge army, it is said that every man and women of Kalinga has come out on the battle field.

src list25.com

But still they were no match to the Mauryans. The battle was won by Ashoka.Next morning when the sun rose, it was a little redder in colour. It is said that the The Daya River near which the Kalinga war was fought, had its water turned red in blood that day.


Ashoka could see the battle ground full of dead bodies and blood and wounded soldiers. He could hear the groaning of those who were injured and mourning of orphaned children and wives who lost their near and dear ones, Vultures were hovering over the dead bodies. At least 0.1 million Kalinga soldiers and almost equal number of Magadha soldiers were also killed. This battle which Ashoka thought, would be an easy one, was the bloodiest battle he had ever fought.

The Kalinga war prompted Ashoka to devote the rest of his life preaching “Ahimsa (non-violence)”. Following the conquest of Kalinga, Ashoka ended the military expansion of the empire, and led the empire through more than 40 years of relative peace, harmony and prosperity. He propagated Buddhism all over India and also towards Afghanisthan, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Africa.

The Stupa:

This is a “Peace Pagoda” that symbolizes one of the greatest historical events that occurred in India. The event that resulted spiritual change in the heart of the biggest and the most barbaric king India ever had. It also changed the very course of the future of Buddhism in India. Dhauli hill is presumed to be the area where the “Kalinga War” was fought.

photo Paresh Kale
photo Paresh Kale
The pagoda, known as white peace pagoda, has been built by the Japan Buddha Sangha and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha in the 1970s. Ashoka fought his last battle, infamous Kalinga war, on the banks of river Daya flowing near by the place. It is said that water of the river turned red with blood on seeing which Ashoka realised the tragedy a war brings. He raised many chaityas, stupas and pillars. Many rock edicts have been discovered in the vicinity of this stupa place showing the inscribing made by King Ashoka.
photo by Gauraba Tripathi
photo by Gauraba Tripathi
The construction of Shanti Stupa of Dhauligiri was assisted by Fuji Guruji and therefore, the place became the place of devotion and worship for various people belonging to different generations. The overall structure of the stupa is in the shape of a dome. No doors, no rooms to be found. At a short distance from the Shanti Stupa, the temple of Dhavaleshwar is located. Temple was renovated in the year 1972 and is much frequented by Hindu as well as Buddhist devotees. Do visit Dhauligiri, appreciate the sculptures and explore this Buddhist attraction that add to the sacred significance of Dhauligiri in Odisha.

Rock Edicts of Ashoka:

While going up-hill, I came across the Rock Edicts of Ashoka.

photo gaurab Tripathi
photo gaurab Tripathi

Discovered in the year 1837 by Lt. M. Kittoe, the set of rock edicts contain eleven out of the well-known 14 Rock Edicts of Ashoka ( 273 – 236 BC). The language of the edicts is Magadhi Prakrita and the script being the early Brahmi. Here the Omission of the thirteenth edict is deliberate as it describes Ashoka’s conquest of Kalinga involving a great carnage, captivity and miseryof the people.

On the rock above the inscription, is the sculpted forepart of an elephant carved out of live rock which symbolizes Buddha, the “best of elephants” (Gajottama) as in this form he was believed to have entered his mother’s womb in dream.


Light and Sound Show:

Recently a great initiative has been started by the Odisha Tourism. Don’t miss the “Light and Sound” show at the evening which costs just 25 rupees per person. Had goose bumps when I witnessed the great history of my land narrated with the baritone voice of Mr. Om Puri.



It is located at Dhauli, a small village about 6-8 km away from Bhubaneshwar, and situated on the banks of river Daya.  Stupa can be approached by road with private vehicle, tourist bus (prior booking is required) or auto rickshaw. Auto Rickshaw may take about 300 rupees from Bhubaneshwar and back, waiting period included.
Entry fee and visiting time:
There is no entry fee to the stupa. However, toll is collected (rs 5 per vehicle) at the entry point to the village.
No time restriction. One can visit anytime. I advice not to visit very early or on late eve. The area is isolated and not safe.