Dhauli ଧଉଳି

10:43 pm

I've a flight tomorrow that is going to take me away from the dropping temperatures of New Delhi for five days. But as I was checking my tickets etc, I realised that there are so many places that I've been meaning to write about over here and I just keep putting them off because I'm just so lazy. Omo.

So here I am, typing away merrily, wondering which place to pick out for this particular post. I think I should settle down on Dhauli since I was reading about Buddhism this morning. Dhauli is a place in Orissa (or Odisha, whichever way you spell it), just about 8 km south of Orissa's capital Bhubaneswar. Just to prove my point that Dhauli is a place worth visiting, I'm, uploading some of the pictures from my visit last year. I think everyone is familiar with the story of Ashoka. For those who aren't, a quick recap: Ashoka was a Mauryan emperor (if you don't know the Maurya dynasty, your Indian history needs brushing up...just Wikipedia it for now). After he occupied Kalinga (which is mostly present day Orrisa), there was a lot of bloodshed because of the war that had taken place in order to make Kalinga a part of the Mauryan empire. It is said that the bloodshed was so much that the entire Daya river turned red because of the dead warriors' blood. Anyway, so Ashoka was not okay when he saw this horrific scene of dead bodies, a bloodied river, and houses destroyed and so on. He regretted his actions. He encountered an old Buddhist monk called Uppagupta (I don't recall the exact story but I think the monk was passing) who taught him the teachings of Gautam Buddha and ahimsa that eventually convinced Ashoka to convert to Buddhism. He went from being Chandashoka to Dharmashoka. It was then that he ordered inscriptions of Buddhist teachings and philosophy in Dhauli, which is apparently the site of the Kalinga War.

I went there last year and the actual rock edict, intact with the inscriptions are looked after by ASI and is gorgeous! I cannot read a word of what's written there (it is written in Pali language and I think the script is Brahmi) but it is so amazing to see that. To see and imagine the magnitude of the loss and destruction that turned a warrior into a messenger of peace. To even try to imagine what all could have taken place all those years ago, in about 261 BC. It sends chills down your spine, I tell you. Here is a picture I managed to click of the rock edicts.
These inscriptions are on a giant rock whose outer surface is shaped like one huge elephant.

You can see the face of the elephant in this picture that I clicked.

Funnily enough, a lot of tourists who visit Dhauli do not see these inscriptions or even know where it is. I found it odd because our group was the only one present there and these inscriptions by Ashoka are kind of the deal of Dhauli. Which is why I am blogging about this head on. Lol.

The tourist crowd was gathered further up the tiny hill at the Peace Pagoda, a much recent structure, and very beautiful. This beautiful white monument, known as the Peace Pagoda can be spotted from afar. See, after converting to Buddhism, Ashoka wanted to spread the Buddhist teachings to as many people as possible and he was mainly responsible of spreading Buddhism outside of India. Which is kind of why, I suppose, Dhauli is a meaningful spot for Buddhists worldwide. This pagoda was built by Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangh who was guided by Guruji Fujji. Guruji Fujji was the founder and president of Japan's Nipponzan Myohoji.

Inside this pagoda, is a magnificent statue of Buddha, who seems to be deep in meditation. Despite the enormous number tourists surrounding him, click pictures of and with him.

And then outside the pagoda, is this:
Which is so beautiful even though I wish I knew Japanese just so that I was able to read what's written there. If anyone knows, lemme know.

That's all I have about Dhauli. It's an amazing place, worth at least one visit. 

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