Indian history has always been a subject of special interest to me since my childhood. And every time I reach a new city, the places I prioritize on my list of must-see places are the archeological sites. Last week, I headed to the historic city of Bhubaneswar to train the incumbents of Mahashakti Foundation at its newly commenced office on Salesforce Social Enterprise Software. During my previous visits to Bhubaneswar, I visited the Lingaraj temple and few other places of interest, but not the Dhauli Hill which is of major historical significance. So, I vowed to myself to visit this small hillock which is about 15km from MSF’s office once I conclude my assignment in Bhubaneswar. On the penultimate day of my stay in Bhubaneswar, after an hour long bus ride, I reached the Dhauli Hill. The area adjoining the Dhauli Hill and the Daya River are believed to be the battlegrounds where one of the bloodiest wars in the world’s history was fought. The (in)famous Kalinga War, which led to the destruction of the Kalinga kingdom was fought here. Over 1 hundred thousand people lost their lives, and the Daya River turned red due to the blood it carried. Deeply moved by the aftermath of the war, Ashoka embraced Buddhism and became a propagator of peace. Of all the prominent personalities I came across so far, I developed a distinct fascination for Ashoka.For Ashoka's charismatic abilities as a ruler and for his transformed persona post-Kalinga War, the sobriquet- Emperor of the Emperors- bestowed upon Ashoka is truly justified!
Peace Pagoda (Shanti Stupa) atop the Dhauli HillAs soon as I reached the Dhauli hill, I quickly ascended the hill to reach its summit where a magnificent white Peace Pagoda (Shanti Stupa) stands. It was built in the 1970s under the aegis of Japan Buddha Sangha and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha. Adjacent to the Dhauli Stupa is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. At the foot of the hill are Ashokan rock edicts carved after the war. The edicts depict the regret expressed by Ashoka for waging war against the kingdom of Kalinga and also his assurance to rule the conquered kingdom in accordance with the principles of his new faith, Buddhism.
The Ashokan Rock EdictsAs I walked down the hill and through the surrounding green fields, I found it hard to believe if this place abounds with peace is truly the setting for such a fierce battle once upon a time in the past.