The Dhauli Shanti Stupa or the Peace Pagoda as it is known today was built in the year 1972. Constructed on the site where the famous Kalinga War was fought, the Dhauli Stupa was built with the motive of commemorating the grand peace that Kalinga War achieved. It’s quite something; given that Kalinga War has been recorded as one of the bloodiest wars ever fought in the history of mankind.
What is rather spectacular, is the Dhauli Light and Sound Show that shouldn’t be missed at any cost. The Peace Pagoda stands dazzling atop the Dhauli Hills during the day, and transforms into this canvas for the night, courtesy the state-of-the art projectors that beam laser rays onto its surface, recreating history that immediately transport the onlooker back into time.
In the 35 minutes riveting show, the you get to witness the glory of the Kalinga Empire, the feuds within the Mauryan Empire and King Ashoka’s rise to power. As the show progresses, you also witness the gruesome Kalinga War and its morbid aftermath. And then comes the powerful climax – Ashoka’s remorse at the massive bloodbath caused by the war and his momentous transformation from Chandashoka (Cruel Ashoka) to Dhammashoka (Ashoka, the follower of Dharma). The show wraps up with Ashoka renouncing violence, embracing the teachings of Buddhism and propagating the religion to the rest of the world.
Another attraction worthy of a visit are the famous Ashokan Rock Edicts, located on the way to the Dhauli Stupa. The rock edicts depict the various welfare schemes initiated by Ashoka for his citizens and his diktats to his officials on governance. The rock cut elephant structure atop the edicts is one of the earliest sculptures in the region.
The three day Kalinga Dhauli Mahotsav is a festival held in the month of February featuring a heady mix of classical music, classical dance and martial art dance forms. You could club your trip here with the festival to get the best of both worlds. Dhauli Hills are located on the banks of the river Daya, 8 km south of Bhubaneswar in Odisha.