BHUBANESWAR ~ Buddhist & Jain Heritage
Today known as the temple city of India Bhubaneswar derives her name from Tribubaneawar, meaning the “Seat of the Lord of the Universe.” The ancient city is believed to be the secret abode of Lord Shiva. For the last few centuries Kalinga (Orissa) have been ruled by several dynasties and each tried to outdo the other by constructing magnificent temples, resulting into a huge concentration of temples in Bhubaneswar and hence the name temple city of India.
But the heritage of Bhubaneswar is not restricted to temples alone. It was in the vicinity of Bhubaneswar the great Kalinga War was fought in 261 BC, which resulted in Emperor Ashoka embracing Buddhism. No wonder Bhubaneswar has its share of Buddhist historical sites. After the Kalinga war Hinduism and Buddhism along with Jainism flourished in the region, turning Bhubaneswar into an interesting religious hub.
Located on the banks of the river Daya Dhauli Hill marks the site of the famous Kalinga War. It is here Emperor Ashoka gave up arms and embraced peace. Today a Japanese built peace pagoda marks the historical event.
Located on the Puri – Bhubaneswar highway the towering white peace pagoda welcomes tourist and pilgrims from Puri. The white coloured pagoda is also known as the peace pagoda and is visible from miles away. No wonder it is one of the major landmarks of Bhubaneswar. The circular pagoda contains four Buddha statues in the four cardinal directions. There are also various other panels depicting stories from the life of Buddha.
The adjoining hill, slightly lower in height, is crowned by a Shiva temple. A Japanese Buddhist Monastery is located at the base of the hill.
Next to the monastery is a beautifully landscaped garden containing the famous Ashokan Rock Edict. Crowned by a stone elephant the rock edict is protected by a glass screen and is maintained by the ASI.
Discovered in 1837 by Lt. M. Kittoe the Ahokan Rock Edict dates back to BC 273 – 236. Written in Magadhi Prakit and using the Brahmi script the rock edict contains 11 out of the 14 well known rock edict of Ashoka. In addition it also contains two special rock edict.
A blue board of ASI not only gives the brief history of the Rock Edict but translates the edict into English and Hindi.
Udayagiri & Khandagiri
Located on the suburbs of Bhubaneswar the two hills of Udayagiri & Khandagiri consist of a large number of natural and artificial caves. The Udayagiri & Khandagiri caves were constructed from the 2nd century BC to the 1st century AD and is a prime attraction for locals and tourist alike.
Udayagiri, or the sunrise cave, contains 18 natural and artificial caves. The star attraction is the two storied Ranigumpha occupying the central region of the cave complex. The other caves are arranged around the Ranigompha in a crescent shape.
Hatigumpha located at the very entrance of Udayagiri has great historical importance. It contains the famous inscription of the Emperor Kharavella, of Kalinga dating back to the 2nd century BC. The 17 line inscription inscribed in deep cut Brahmi script can still be seen on the ceiling of Hatigompa.
Another interesting cave is the Ganeshgumpha. Two elephants guard the entrance and hence the name Ganeshgumpha. The elegant pillars make it a beautiful structure. The gumpha also provides a great view of the adjoining Khandagiri Hill, which is crowned with a Hindu Temple.
Khandagir, the broken hill, is located on the other side of the road is predominantly a Jain sites. Now crowned by an active Hindu Temple the place is crowded by holy men, pilgrims and monkeys.
Khandagiri contain statues of all the 24 Jain Tirtankharas, including a giant statue of Mahavir. Sadly the caves of Khandagiri are badly maintained.
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