Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Dhauligiri - erstwhile battlefield of the Kalinga War

Dhauligiri - erstwhile battlefield of the Kalinga War
Monsoon is still in her teaser mode and the sadist summer is yet to leave his stage. Wet weather won't support much travel plans, but it'll be far better than this life sucking heat. Despite the never-quenching thirst for traveling, my idiosyncrasies do not always allow me to act like true wanderers. That's why I have been publishing photo stories from my old travelogues of late, instead of vrooming out with the riding jacket on. In my last post I was glorifying Odisha, my less sung neighbor state, as the perfect tourism snippet of incredible India. Today I'm back with another beautiful place of interest, barely ten kilometers away from the fast developing city of Bhubaneswar.

Dhauligiri - erstwhile battlefield of the Kalinga War
Despite its poignant history and nature's extravaganza, Dhauligiri (pronounced as 'Dhavalgiri') is popular among day tourists exclusively for the Japanese Peace Pagoda located at the top of the Dhauli Hill. It's a shame that we limit our visit to Shanti Stupa and miss the soul of the place. Even I'm culpable of the same ignorance. Although I had been to Dhauligiri many times before, it was the first place I visited that morning. Yes, first half of the morning is the ideal time to explore Dhauligiri Hill. You may visit there in late afternoon as well. Just avoid the midday sun. An empty tummy parents dumb mind. Before entering the Peace Pagoda I topped up my greedy gut with few delicious vada.

Dhauligiri - erstwhile battlefield of the Kalinga War
Dhauligiri Shanti Stupa stands white atop the Dhauli Hill, by the bank of Daya River, where Emperor Ashoka had embraced Buddhism after being mentally shattered by his self created massacre post Kalinga War. Kalinga War fought by the Maurya Empire under the able leadership of Ashoka against the state of Kalinga is considered as one of the most gory and devastating battles in history. It is said that during the course of this battle, River Daya had turned red with human blood, and that violent sight caused inner transformation of the mighty Maurya Emperor. Ashoka had won the battle. But, by then he had realized the futility of war and it was the last battle he ever fought.

Dhauligiri - erstwhile battlefield of the Kalinga War
Shanti Stupa has been built in the shape of a dome. As you circumambulate the pagoda you'll come across four large statues of Buddha, each one of them sculpted in different postures depicting various stages of Buddha's life. On a fine day you'll have to compete hard with your fellow tourists to get a clear shot of those divine statues or motifs on the wall. It is nauseating to see how majority of tourists treat monuments and religious sites. You'll find most of them posing with their back towards Buddha statues, which is considered a disrespectful behavior in Buddhism. Some tourists are so gross that they do not mind letting their children sit on those statues to get it clicked. Still, when such manners are criticized by people of more civilized nations we take it on our hollow nationality!

Dhauligiri - erstwhile battlefield of the Kalinga War
Do not forget to savor the soothing panorama of the surroundings from the back of the Shanti Stupa. When you gaze at the vast stretch of greenery below, the narrow strip of meandering Daya cutting through agricultural land might compel you to imagine the bloodbath visuals of Kalinga battlefield and get goosebumps! Conserve your energy to visit the nearby Dhavaleshar Temple and Rock Edicts of Ashoka. Take your time and absorb the essence of Dhauligiri. When you are done either go back to Bhubaneshwar to explore its old world charms, or head onto Puri to witness a vivid sunset over the Bay of Bengal.