Dhauli is famous for Shanti Stupa and its picturesque beauty. The legendary war of Kalinga was fought here too. Dhauli hills are located on the banks of the River Daya and it is 8km away from the Bhubaneswar, Odisha. This place has major Edicts of Ashoka engraved on rocks. These edicts include Nos. I-X, XIV and separate Kalinga Edicts. This place also houses the earliest Buddha sculpture of Odisha. Remains of some of the few ancient Mauryan art and culture is found here.
The Dhauligiri hills also have an ancient Shiva temple where devotees gather in large numbers during the festival of Shivratri.
Shanti Stupa Dhauligiri
The Shanti Stupa at Dhauligiri is also known as the Peace Pagoda. It was built by the Japan Buddha Sangha and Kalinga Nippo Buddha Sangha in the year 1970. The term ‘shanti’ literally means peace. So, this place signifies the establishment of peace and harmony. King Ashoka had laid the foundation of establishing Dhauli as an important center of Buddhist activities. This was followed by the bloodshed that had happened here during the Kalinga War. Distraught by loss of life and chaos, King Ashoka decided to embrace peace and resorted to Buddhism.
The overall structure of the stupa is like that of a dome. It has life size statues of Lord Buddha in the four directions. These statues though made of stone look so real and at peace. The Shanti Stupa is visited by people of different religious beliefs. In the vicinity there lays Saddharma Vihar monastery. Buddhists visit this place in large numbers. The structure is painted in white and golden and reverberates tranquility.
Fuji Guruji had assisted in the construction of the Shanti Stupa. This resulted in attracting people of different faiths in here. The edicts by Ashoka talk about peace, contentment and joy. He believed a fruitful couldn’t be lived by war and violence. One can find an elephant over the edicts which is considered as the earliest Buddhist sculpture at Odisha.
The Shanti Stupa is built on top of a hill and if one looks down then the battleground of the Kalinga war can be spotted. It is near the River Daya which was believed to have been turned red due to the Kalinga War. This huge mass of land was once soaked in blood and gore. One can only imagine the dreadful scene of the war while staring at the very ground.
About Emperor Ashoka
Ashoka or Ashoka the Great was an Indian Emperor of the Mauryan Dynasty. He was the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Mauryan Dynasty. The word Ashoka means ‘the one without sorrow’. He was a chivalric leader and had conquered almost all of India except present day Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. He was successful in expanding his reign by his tactful skills and policies. Much information about his personal life isn’t available. Edicts on rocks talk about his reign which were found in Nepal, India and Afghanistan. He had famously taken up Buddhism after the brutal Kalinga War. He became a man of peace eventually after witnessing the aftermath of the war. The emblem of modern Republic of India is an adaptation of the Lion Capital of Ashoka.
Ashoka’s Message through his Edicts
Ashoka’s edicts are found on two mediums namely rock and pillar in three different languages i.e. Prakrit, Greek and Aramaic. They are characterized as major and minor on the basis of their size. The edicts on the rocks came prior to the ones on pillars. Minor rock edicts were inscribed at the beginning of Ashoka’s reign in Prakrit, Greek and Aramaic. 7 edicts were inscribed at the end of Ashoka’s reign in Prakrit. This was a major pillar edicts. The major rock edicts are extensive in nature.
These edicts are a collection of more than 30 inscriptions on the pillars as well as boulders and cave walls.
Ashoka through his edicts preached the morals of kindness, benevolence, peace and purity. The expressions used by Ashoka to describe Dharma in the Prakrit language was Dhamma, Eusebeia in Greek and the Aramaic word Qsyt were used. According to him Dharma meant doing the right thing. He wanted to change people’s mindset and educate them about the peaceful way of living.
After embracing Buddhism, Ashoka bought significant changes in his way of ruling. The Mauryan Empire was the first empire to unite India under a common rule. They had specified officials who carried out various tasks. The empire put emphasis on the conservation of fauna. It was during his regime that hunting was discouraged by the royals.
Another characteristic feature of Ashoka’s Dhamma was that he placed emphasis on judicial justice. He regularly pardoned prisoners. For him law and order were utmost important and were the pillars of his empire.
A Tourist’s Guide to Dhauli Giri Hills Shanti Stupa
Dhauli hills are located at a distance of 8km from Bhubaneswar. It is located on the banks of the river Daya.
The Shanti Stupa at Dhauligiri is open on all days of the week from 6 am to 6 pm. Entry isn’t ticketed. The stupa is also not close during public holidays.
The Dhuali festival is celebrated every year from Feb 15th to 17th and attracts large numbers of devotees. Tourist buses always include Dhaulgiri as one of sites in their schedule.
One can find a wide range of hotels in and around the place.
The Shanti Stupa is well-connected by road. One can even walk on foot and reach the stupa on top of the hill. Many tourists from all over the country and abroad come and dwell in the tranquility of this place. The place attracts decent amount of Buddhist monks throughout the year. It is a very important place from the religious perspective.