After having won the never-before Kalinga, the great emperor achieved what no one had done before him. But at what cost? This question would haunt him day and night & soon the great Mauryan emperor renounced everything and turned a monk. Over the years, he would play an instrumental role in heralding Buddhism in Indian subcontinent & Central Asia by building many monuments & encouraging monks to travel.
Ashoka was one of the best rulers the world has seen & his teachings still exist in the forms of Ashoka’s edicts and many engraved rocks & pillars. All this – because he realised that massacres and loss of life – can’t bring true happiness. The place that brought about this change and revelation in Ashoka where supposedly the Kalinga war was fought, is present day, Dhauli Hills in Odisha.
The place is full of edicts of Ashoka engraved on rocks and pillars by the side of roads leading to the summit wherein a beautiful, white Pagoda stands pretty and peacefully, called Shanti Stupa.
Shanti Stupa – a white Pagoda with engravings around it depicting stories of ancient yet not forgotten past. Those still live on the walls of the structure and in the minds of visitors. Inside, and around, you would see Lord Buddha in many moods like many human emotions.
And that just makes the whole place more real. It was a scorching, searing afternoon of February & the temperature was easily 38/ 39 degrees. I couldn’t even see anything without the sunlight blinding me. And yet I remember going around the Pagoda multiple times, waiting to catch glimpses of Lord Buddha’s moods, focusing to figure out the engravings (or remember where have I seen these before). Shanti Stupa is a pilgrimage site for many, a place of importance for historians, and a must visit for travellers who want to know the ancient, prolific, diverse, rich and real India.
Dhauli hills are nearby Bhubaneswar and must not be missed if you are visiting the place. It’s a rare chance to witness the historical marvels that changed the course of life.