Odisha government starts repairing Dhauli Peace Pagoda
The Odisha government has started the repair at the dome-shaped Dhauli Giri Shanti Stupa, the famous peace pagoda associated with Buddhist culture, atop Dhauli hills on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.
There was growing concern over the health of the structure that has developed cracks at several places. Plaster has come off in chunks on different sides of the pagoda, taking a toll on its beauty and raising questions about its safety.
Considering the monument’s fragile health, rituals like the bathing of Gautam Buddha statue with milk at the pagoda could not be held on the Buddha Jayanti (Buddha Purnima) on Monday. Instead, the ritual was held at the monastery at the foothills of Dhauli. Buddha Sangha secretary Liu Kuo Yung and development coordinator, Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangha, Rabi Naryan Maharana performed the rituals.
The stupa atop the Dhauli hill on the bank of river Daya, about 10km from here, recalls the famous Kalinga War and the transformation of King Ashoka from a tyrant into a benevolent monarch. But the monument is crying for the attention of the authorities.
The stupa was built jointly in 1972 by the Japan Buddha Sangh and the Kalinga Nippon Buddha Sangh. It was constructed by the chief priest of Nipponzan Myohoji, who came to India in 1930 from Mt. Minobu, the original holy place of the Nichiren Sect.
Here Emperor Ashoka is believed to have renounced violence after watching the bloodshed in the battle of Kalinga fought in the foothills of Dhauli and adopted non-violence after converting into the Buddhist faith.
The famous Ashokan edicts enshrining his decrees for the welfare of people and even animals within his empire are still treasured at a site close to the base of Dhauli hill. The pagoda on the hill top is adorned by the statues of reclining Gautam Buddha, an elephant procession, the Bodhi tree and footprints of Buddha bearing the chakra (wheel).
“I have come to this place after 10 years. It’s really painful to see that the famous place is lying neglected,” said Suhas Mishra, a computer professional who was visiting the monument with his family.
Rabi Naryan Maharana said: “Following our repeated requests, the state government has sanctioned Rs 1 crore to repair the monuments from the special problematic fund of the chief minister. The work was awarded to Odisha Bridge and Construction Corporation Limited (OBCC) in March. But no progress has been made so far. We are worried whether the work will be completed by the time the peace pagoda completes 50 years of its existence on November 8.”
Maharana said, “The pagoda is so much popular is that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Dalai Lama are expected to come to attend 50th year celebration of the peace pagoda’s existence.”
Manager, OBCC Santosh Sahu told The Telegraph, “Work was delayed as we needed the support of the Burla Engineering College to know the exact health status of the existing structure. The work has started. We are hopeful of completing the repairs by October.