Sunday, 7 October 2012

Orissa (PART-I)


Orissa, the state of joy, color and Mythology

Orissa, officially spelled Odisha, is a state of India, located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient kingdom of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka in 261 BCE. The modern state of Orissa was established on April 1, 1936, as a province in British India and consisted predominantly of Oriya speakers. April 1 is therefore celebrated as Utkala Dibasa (foundation day of Orissa). Cuttack remained the capital of the state for over eight centuries until April 13, 1948 when Bhubaneswar was officially declared as the new capital of Orissa, and still is the present capital of this state.
Orissa is the 9th largest state by area in India, and the 11th largest by population. Oriya (officially spelled Odia) is the official and most widely spoken language, spoken by three quarters of the population. Orissa has a coastline (about 480 km long) and lacked good ports, except for the deepwater facility at Paradip, until the recent launch of the Dhamara Port. The narrow, level coastal strip, including the Mahanadi river delta supports the bulk of the population.


Bhubaneswar is the capital of the Indian state of Orissa. The city has a history of over 3000 years starting with the Mahamegha-bahana Chedi dynasty (around 2nd century BCE) that had Sisupalgarh near present-day Bhubaneswar as their capital. Bhubaneswar has been known by names such as Toshali, Kalinga Nagari, Nagar Kalinga, Ekamra Kanan, Ekamra Kshetra and Mandira Malini Nagari (City of Temples) otherwise known as the Temple City of India. Bhubaneswar, literally means the Lord (Eeswar) of the Universe (Bhuban). It is the largest city of Orissa, and a center of economic and religious importance in the region today.
Bhubaneswar's possession of magnificent sculptures and architectural heritage, coupled with the sanctity as Ekamrakshetra make this one of the great religious centres of Orissa since early medieval days. With its large number of Hindu temples (over 600 in number), which span the entire spectrum of Kalinga architecture, Bhubaneswar is often referred to as a Temple City of India and together with Puri and Konark it forms the Swarna Tribhuja (Golden Triangle); one of the most visited destinations in East India.

Places to see:

Lingaraj Temple

Lingaraj Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Harihara, another name for Shiva and is one of the oldest temples of Bhubaneswar, a revered pilgrimage center.
The temple of Lingaraja, the biggest of all at Bhubaneswar, is located within a spacious compound wall of laterite measuring 520 feet by 465 feet. The wall is 7 feet 6 inches thick and surmounted by a plain slant coping. Alongside the inner face of the boundary wall there runs a terrace probably meant to protect the compound wall against outside aggression.
The temple of Lingaraja is by far the most notable monument of Bhubaneswar. Rising to a height of about one hundred and eighty feet and dominating the entire landscape it represents the quintessence of the Kalinga
Architecture and the culminating result of the architectural tradition at Bhubaneswar.

This temple has actually four parts: the main temple, the Yajña Shala, the Bhoga Mandap and finally the Natya Shala. This temple has images of both Shiva and Vishnu. Vishnu is actually present as Sila. The Shiva idols surround the Vishnu idol. Even the temple on the top has neither Shiva's Trishula nor Vishnu's Chakram. It has only Rama's arrow symbol, probably because Rama was a worshipper of Shiva.
Every year a chariot festival (Ratha-Yatra) of Lingaraj is celebrated on Ashokashtami. The deity is taken in a chariot to Rameshwar Deula temple. Thousands of devotees follow and pull brightly decorated chariots containing the idols of Lord Lingaraj and his sister Rukmani. This chariot procession stays for five days at the Rameshwar Temple and then will be brought back. This festival commemorates Lord Lingaraj having slayed a demon.
There is also a railway station named after it, called Lingaraj Temple Road.


View of River Daya from Dhouli

Dhauli or Dhauligiri hills are located on the banks of the river Daya, 8 km south of Bhubaneswar. It is a hill with vast open space adjoining it, and has major Edicts of Ashoka engraved on a mass of rock, by the side of the road leading to the summit of the hill. Dhauli hill is presumed to be the area where Kalinga War was fought. Ashoka had a special weakness for Dhauli, where the battle was fought. The Daya River is said to have turned red with the blood of the many deceased after the battle, and enabled Ashoka to realize the magnitude of horror associated with war. He saw to it that Dhauli became an important centre of Buddhist activities. He built several chaityas, stupas and pillars there. He got abodes excavated for the recluse, instructions inscribed for officials, expounded the main principles of dandaniti for the public, provided special status to his new kingdom including the stupas at Dhauli.

Shanti Stupa of Dhauligiri

On the top of the hill, a dazzling white peace pagoda has been built by the Japan Buddha Sangha and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha in the 1970s. Shanti Stupa of Dhauligiri is also known as the Peace Pagda. The word 'shanti' in the name itself suggests peace. Since King Ashoka adopted the path of peace and tranquility and resorted to Buddhism, he laid the foundation of Dhauligiri Shanti Stupa at a place which is known for the end of Kalinga War. Here, one finds the edict of Lord Budddha which is visited by numerous Buddhist devotees.
The construction of Shanti Stupa of Dhauligiri was assisted by Fuji Guruji and therefore, the place became the place of devotion and worship for various people belonging to different generations.
Buddha statue at Dhauligiri
Sleeping Buddha statue at Dhauligiri
There also exist a number of edicts that display King Ashoka's intention to promote joy, peace and contentment all through the world. And over the edicts, you come across a rock cut elephant that is considered to be the earliest Buddhist sculpture in Orissa.The overall structure of the stupa is in the shape of a dome. One can spot the Buddha footprints as well as the Bodhi tree over the stone panels. Over the panels, one also spots the image of Ashoka who keeps his sword of war in front of Lord Buddha suggesting that he had given up the idea of war completely. In the vicinity of this stupa, there lays a monastery named as the Saddharma Vihar Monastery, which is much visited by the Buddhist devotees.

And at a short distance from the Shanti Stupa, you find the temple of Dhavaleshwar that was renovated in the year 1972 and is much frequented by Hindu as well as Buddhist devotees. Therefore, do make it a point to visit Dhauligiri and explore various Buddhist attractions that add to the sacred significance of Dhauligiri in Orissa.

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