King Ashoka or Ashoka the Great, was one of India’s greatest kings. The grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya dynasty, King Ashoka ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from 268 to 232 BC. From Afghanistan in the west to Bangladesh in the East and from Kashmir in the north to Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala in the South, his empire’s reign was absolutely massive. The turning point in his life came right after he won the bloody Kalinga (the land we know as Odisha today) war. He was deeply affected by all the bloodshed and that is when he made the switch to Buddhism and became one of the strongest preachers and ambassadors of Buddhism in the world. It was because of him that Buddhism spread to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Tibet, China, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and other countries in the far east.
As Indians, we have learned and read about him in our schools and books and see his influence on our Indian flag, our currencies and at many other locations across the country (I am referring to his emblem as seen on Sarnath’s Ashoka pillar). But, nothing comes close to the experience of transporting yourself 2,500 years to the time where lands were known as Kalinga, Magadh, Patliputra, etc. and re-living the life of one of the greatest kings the planet has ever known.
One of the best places to have this experience is Dhauli Stupa, the place from where you can see the Kalinga battlefield and the place where King Ashoka left his violence behind and embraced the guidance and teachings of Lord Buddha. This story is told every evening at Dhauli Stupa through a spectacular light and sound show. Created by renowned Russian artist Maria Rud and local sand artists, this visual and auditory treat carries the iconic voice of Om Puri (in Hindi), Kabir Bedi (in English) and Bijaya Mohanty (in Odia). During this show, the white peace pagoda of Dhauli is morphed into a fast moving mural canvas with the latest 3D projection mapping technology and 5.1 surround sound. It is a must experience for all visitors on a holiday to Odisha!
Below is the entire light and sound show in 3 video parts for all those who cannot travel to Dhauli and experience it in person. Do watch it on big screens with highest resolution and good quality sound system to appreciate it more. I took all three videos using my Google Pixel 2XL mobile phone.
There are 2 shows every day. One at 6 PM and the other at 6: 45 PM. The show lasts a total of 35 minutes
The ticket for each adult costs INR 25 and INR 10 for students
Bhubaneshwar is your nearest airport, railway station and bus hub. You can reach Dhauli by road in about 60 minutes from Bhubaneshwar. You could either hire an auto rickshaw or car for the commute. There are a few steps that one has to climb to reach Dhauli hill from the parking lot.
Winter would be the ideal season to see this show as temperatures would be very pleasant.
By Sankara Subramanian
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