Situated about 8km away from the capital city of Bhubaneswar, is this ‘Shanti-Stupa’ (pillar of peace) on the Dhauli Giri hill which stands tall and proud for its cause which as its name suggests is love and peace! You can easily reach this place by first arriving and checking in to a hotel in Bhubaneswar for your accommodation and then taking a cab, or town busses to travel to this place.
Now knowing the bus timings have become very easy with the government’s very own “Mo bus” app. Bhubaneswar is connected to other major cities of the country through railways, roads and air transportation, so you should choose according to your preference.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru the first prime minister of India, had laid down the first brick of construction of India’s first “Stupa” at Rajgiri in the Indian state of Bihar, solely dedicated to making the Buddhist as ease in the country as they were and are still a minority. Then the governor of Bihar Sri Nitya Nanda Kanungo decided to establish second Shanti Stupa at Dhauligiri in Orissa State, so he proposed to turn this spot of Dhauli-giri in a full-fledged Buddhist spot, considering its strong historic links with the religion.
The construction of the monument was laid by Nichidatsu Fujii, fondly called “Fuji Guruji”, which makes it an important place to visit not only for the Buddhists but also a lot of other people from diverse regions and religions. He is a Japanese Buddhist monk and teacher, well-known for his decision in 1947 to go around building “Peace Pagodas” in many places around the world as shrines for “World Peace”.
He along with his devotees helped build the “Shanti Stupa” at “Dhauli-Giri” and that too free of cost, as he believed that this was a little contribution of his to bring out the good in Humanity. Born into a peasant family he had become a monk by the age of 19 and went on around the world making Pagodas, preaching the message of Buddhism.
He started the missionary called the Nipponzan Myohoji which had to lend a great help in building this Stupa. His efforts also led to the start of a movement that came to be known as a movement called the Nichidatsu Fuji movement. There is another “Peace pagoda” at Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal.
This monument is settled on a hilltop with wide-open spaces around giving it an amazing view of the city. Also known as the “Peace Pagoda” this monument marks the great Mauryan King Ashoka’s change of purpose after the bloodied war between his army and the Kalinga-Tribes.
The Daya river, which means ‘Mercy’ both in Hindi and Odia languages and is still flowing just a few kilometers before the monument as one travels from the city Bhubaneswar, is said to have turned red with the blood of the soldiers who were killed during the brutal Kalinga war! How Ironic! This war is believed to have been fought right here in 261 B.C when the valiant but harsh king Ashoka decided to annex the state of Kalinga that included the whole of Odisha, and parts of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Bihar.
After seeing the loss of life and the blood-shed the king gets an internal change from his aggressive, valiant and ambitious desires to a soul-shift of a peace-preaching, and an ardent Buddhist devotee.
King Ashoka had a special weakness for this place as it is this place that had brought a massive change in his core as a consequence of which his life-path and perspectives changed which made him give up the life of warrior, who was single-mindedly determined to annex the entire Indian subcontinent to a monk preaching love, peace, and mercy. He personally saw to it that Dhauli becomes an important place for Buddhist activities and hence built many stupas, pillars, and Chaityas there.
The beautiful “peace pagoda” on the top of this hill was built by the Japan Buddha Sangha and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha in the 1970s. There are numerous other Stupas, Chityas, and pillars whose foundation was laid by the Great Ashoka himself.
The edicts that are being carved out on the walls of this monument, symbolize Ashoka’s intentions to promote, peace, love, and joy for which Buddhism stands for! The overall structure of the monument is that of a dome, which gives it the name “Stupa” and one can see the Bodhi tree meditating under which, Prince Siddharth had attained enlightenment and became Buddha and the footprints of Buddha can be seen here as well.
Near these carvings one can see Ashoka’s word to Buddha to have given up on the idea of war entirely and to henceforth always pursue joy, peace, and love through preaching Buddhism.
At proximity of this great historic monument lie the Dhavaleswar temple and the Saddharma Buddhist Monastry which becomes a natural hub of Hindu and Buddhist visitors. As this place is located on the outskirts of the city, it is secluded from the obvious city noise which actually makes you feel at rest and feel calmness and peace within yourself.
The monument is known for its intricate carvings of the Buddha statue and a series of events that are depicted on the walls of the monument giving a sense of calmness and tranquillity similar to that of what the king attained post the war.
These depictions were composed in Prakrit language and were scripted in Brahmi, therefore there have not been the exact interpretations of the inscriptions as the languages were very regional and are no more n use. There are numerous artifacts that tell us about the civilizations that lived here during the 3rd century B.C. The edicts found here are classified as two different types of edicts one which includes Nos. I-X, XIV and the other edicts are called the Kalinga edicts.
In the VI Kalinga edict, the king expresses his concern for the “welfare of the entire world”, which clearly shows how he is no more interested in annexing the world rather concerned with the welfare and wellbeing of the collective mass.
There is an amazingly surreal rock-carved a sculpture of an elephant that has stood through the storm-prone climate of the region and still manages to awestruck visitors, is believed to be one of the oldest Buddhist sculptures of the entire state, even considering the Khandagiri and Udayagiri caves. The rock-cut depictions, the intricacies of the sculpting and the history that it follows to make it a must-visit destination for when you’re planning your next get-away to this enchanting land of Odisha!