Flanking the southern banks of the river Daya, and eight km from Bhubaneswar are the historic plains of Dhauli that were witness to some of the goriest battles fought in Orissa. The Kalinga War in 261 B.C. proved to be a turning point in not just Indian history, but also in the way people lived and believed in regions beyond the borders.
The gruesome sight had a morose and repentant Emperor Ashoka take to the teachings of peace and non-violence preached by Lord Buddha. The edicts at Dhauli are a living testimony to King Ashoka’s adoption of the doctrine of Dharma Vijay, or conquest through love, over Dig Vijaya, or conquest by the sword.
The Dhauli edicts are written in the Prakrit language using the Brahmi script. It is here that Emperor Ashoka declared his doctrine of paternalism, accepting all men as his children, urging his administrators at Toshali to work for the welfare of Kalinga.
Excavations at Dhauli have revealed a treasure trove of artifacts which suggest a sophisticated urban settlement dating back to the 3rd century B.C. The Dhauli Hill, also known as the Surabha Hill, is a series of small hills enclosing many rock-cut monuments.
The southernmost range or the Asvathama enfolds rock edicts and a carved elephant within a space of 15 x 10 feet. There is some evidence to suggest a stupa as well on the flat terrace of the hill near the elephant. The Dhavaleswar temple is one of the larger temples in Dhauli, and attributed to the same period as the Lingaraja Temple in Bhubaneswar. The Bahirangeswar Siva temple and the Ganesh shrine are other temples that came up subsequently on the western side.
A Shanti Stupa constructed by the Japan Buddhist Sangha is one of the modern day additions to the wonderful Dhauli Hill Complex.