261 BC, the over ambitious Emperor Ashok invaded Kalinga and unleashed a bloody battle around Dhauli. The brave soldiers of the soil confronted the Magadhan army with unprecedented courage and patriotism. The war continued. One and half lakh were taken captive, one lakh were slain and as many as that number succumbed to the aftereffects. The war ended. Emperor Ashoka smiled and then laughed a hearty laugh, for he had won the war. But what came next was beyond his imagination. He found heaps of the dead, heard the wailing of the wounded and saw the tears rolling down the cheeks of those who suffered. The terrible massacre made him remorseful. He was gripped by a sense of guilt. He wished, he had not waged the war. He had conquered the territory but lost his way to come out of the agony. His victory echoed defeat from within. He became restless.
At this juncture, appeared Upagupta, the Buddhist Monk and showed him the path of peace and non- violence. His face radiated with glow. His eyes brightened. Compassion permeated in him. He was rejuvenated with the Buddha's Vani.
He realised the essence of conquest by Dharma in preference to the conquest by Force. He surrendered the sword and embraced Buddhism. History took a U-turn as he renounced the war for good. Kalinga showed the way from War to Peace like the lotus blooming from the mud. The message of peace and non-violence spread beyond the frontiers of India. Thus began a new era of art and education, peace and pilgrimage.
To carry the message to the masses, he erected a set of rock edicts of which one is at Dhauli. He pronounced his reverence to all sects and tolerance to all practices. The earliest rock cut sculpture of India, the forepart of an elephant, was hewn out of live rock above the inscription. Dhauli came to be recognised as an important centre of Buddhist Heritage. There was also a Buddhist Monastery named Arghyaka Varatika existing here in 9th century AD.
In 1972 the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha built a Peace Pagoda, popularly known as Viswa Santi Stupa. Dhauli continued to be a living shrine of Buddhism in modern Odisha (Formerly Orissa) as well. The Dhabaleswar Siva Temple renovated in the same year in close proximity reaffirmed the sacredness of the site.
On the outskirts of modern Bhubaneswar Dhauli emerges from the placid green countryside amidst a tranquil setting of paddy fields. The river Daya flows through little villages. A black topped road meanders from the high way to the Santi Stupa. Driving through the serpentine road smelling cheery odour of the cashew plantations is a pleasure. The hilltop provides a panoramic view of the Temple City of Bhubaneswar. The chanting of Buddhist hymns on one side and the Saiva stotra on the other purifies every soul.
As a fitting tribute to the memorial of Dhauli and to commemorate the victory of Peace over War, a National Festival of Martial Dances was organised on 1st & 2nd February 2003. With the Viswa Shanti Stupa at the backdrop, eminent Dancers of India harmonised the vigour of martial art with the peaceable sublimity of dance tradition through scintillating performances representing Chhow and Paika from Odisha (Formerly Orissa) , Thang Ta from Manipur and Kalaripayattu from Kerala.
Konark Dance Festival:
Described as a poem in stone, the Sun temple at Konark is the crowning glory of the temple architecture of Odisha (Formerly Orissa). As a fitting tribute to the majestic monument, eminent classical dancers of India get together during the Konark Dance Festival every year from 1st to 5th December to present live performances of their art. When the sun sets in the horizon and the stars appear in the sky, the open-air auditorium against the backdrop of the floodlit temple reverberates with the beats of Raga and Tala to fill the air. The classical extravaganza is a journey through ecstasy.
Konark Dance & Music Festival
The Konark Dance & Music Festival is organised by eminent Odissi guru Gangadhar Pradhan's Odisha (Formerly Orissa) Dance Academy in association with the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre, Kolkata at Konark Natya Mandap in Konark every year. A brain-child of the Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee Odissi exponent, the festival is the oldest of its kind in the state to have recognition at the national level.
Puri Beach Festival:
The Puri Beach Festival is an out and out fun lovers fest. Conducted by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha (Formerly Orissa) (HRAO), the festival is a celebration of Odisha (Formerly Orissa), in all its beauty, charm and fun-loving spirit. With events ranging from Fashion shows to rock shows, the Puri Beach festival delights visitors and locals alike. Held on the beautiful beach at Puri, it offers a unique opportunity for visitors to interact with the local populace and enjoy the many splendoured charms of Odisha (Formerly Orissa).
The Puri Beach Festival is co-sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, the Department of Tourism, Government of Odisha (Formerly Orissa), Development Commissioner of Handicrafts and the Eastern Zonal Cultural Center, Calcutta.
A festival of indigenous people of Koraput is being organized by District Council of Culture, Koraput since 1996. It is a leading festival of the State and unique of its kind aiming at spotting out hidden talents in the field of art, culture and sports at grass-root level and to promote the rich cultural heritage of this region.
In a month-long festival more than 50,000 artists and sportspersons participate in G.P.level, Block/ULB level and subsequently at District level competitions. Various cultural programmes like Craft Mela, Boat Race, Artist Camp-cum-Art Exhibition, Seminar, Natyotsav, Book-Fair and Kabi Sammelan etc are also organized. In fact PARAB is not a simple festival but a project participated by different walks of people. It is a forum of interaction and exchange among different kinds of tribal culture from all over the district. It is a mega festival where every item is a festival.
PARAB also aims at the preservation of rich cultural heritage and indigenous identity of the tribal which was never given due exposure and recognition, was adequately highlighted. Competitions and programmes in traditional events of music, tribal dances, folk dances, songs, etc helped in the preservation of tribal cultural heritage of this region.It is a project to promote and protect rich traditional art, crafts and culture of this vast region. The great sensation and competitive spirit developed in the rural areas through PARAB helped in conducting cultural activities in their environment and also preserving their art and crafts milieu so as to ensure the continuity to the traditions of tribal art and crafts.