Dhauli Peace Pagoga-A fantastic piece of Architecture
One of the popular landmarks of Odisha's Buddhist heritage is Dhauli International Peace Pagoda (Shanti Stupa), located 8 km south on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar. The Peace Pagoda is constructed atop Dhauli Hills close to the river bank of Daya River. It was built as a collaborative project between Kalinga Nippon Sangha and the Odisha Government in 1972 to mark the famous Kalinga War that was fought along the banks of Daya River around 261 BC. The war was won by emperor Ashoka but the bloodshed that had happened, changed his heart and he converted to Dharma Ashoka (peace lover) from Chanda Ashoka (fierce warrior). Emperor Ashoka had disowned his weapons here and pledged peace. The pagoda signifies the place where King Ashoka adopted Buddhism. He then started propagating Buddhism to kingdoms in foreign lands.
The dome structure of the Dhauli Shanti Stupa possesses five umbrellas and they symbolize the five essential parts of Buddhism. It has four massive idols of Lord Buddha in various postures along with episodes from Gautam Buddha's life carved on stone slabs. Just behind the Stupa stands a Shiva temple. The temple is all white and built by the Japanese Buddhist society. The stupa is a major attraction not only for the Buddhists, also draws Hindus, Christians, Muslims and people of other faiths for its architectural splendour. It is quite serene and fulfilling to visit this monument.
Other major attractions of Dhauli Hills are the various rock edicts, which are a living testimony of emperor Ashoka’s change of heart. These ancient Buddha stones which tell the life stories of Buddha. A rock-cut elephant located above the edicts is considered to be one of the oldest Buddhist sculptures in the State. Historians say Ashoka wrote ‘welfare of the whole world’ in Kalinga Edict VI, depicting his concern about mankind. The Dhauli Hills also provide a bird's eye view of the entire area, lush green agricultural lands and the river Daya. Very similar to the World Peace Pagoda in Nepal a few stairs lead up to this stupa. One has to walk up the hill to arrive at this place. So does get a little tiring.
The road up to the peace pagoda is in good condition, motorable. Sometimes, parking may be an issue. The pagoda is well kept, crowded at all times. You can enjoy evening light & sound show is good to spent 30 minutes of your time. The head priest of Japanese foundation stays here. You can take part in the daily prayers of ‘Nam MyoHo Range Kyo’-The essence of the Lotus Sutra. The atmosphere is very divine and peaceful in the premises of the stupa. Must visit. Few refreshments available.
Reaching Dhauli in Odisha:
By Road: Bhubaneshwar is just 8 km while Puri is 60 km and Cuttack is 25 km
By Rail: Dhauli is very near to Bhubaneswar which is well connected with Rail Network throughout Orissa.
By Air: Nearest Airport is at Bhubaneswar.