Dhauli, the international peace pagoda constructed with an Indo-Japanese collaboration in 1972, is going to have modern sculptures, landscaping, pathways and development of the neglected water body to become one of the major destinations related to Buddhist sites in the state.
The peace pagoda was developed near the Daya river valley, where the Kalinga War was fought and emperor Asoka won over the region. But, the bloodshed changed the emperor’s heart and he was converted to a peace lover from a fierce warrior.
The king was started being known as Dharmasoka after his initiative to spread Buddhism to the kingdoms in foreign lands.
The new project undertaken by the Odisha Tourism Development Corporation will take another year to complete with an estimated cost of Rs 4 crore for a holistic development of the sites, including adequate parking and crafts bazars.
“Already, 20 modern sculptures are installed and five more will be installed soon. A sleeping Buddha statue, which is made of 40-feet long glass reinforced plastic, is under construction by a sculptor in Cuttack and it will be installed very soon here. The statue will be biggest sleeping Buddha sculpture in the state,” said tourism and culture secretary Ashok Kumar Tripathy.
Sources in the tourism department said the Odisha government had approached the Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation for introduction of the Mahaparinirvan Express linking major Buddhist sites in central India to those of the state.
Trains carrying Buddhist tourists (from the southeast Asian nations) will start arriving by December, so that Lalitgiri, Udaygiri, Ratnagiri and Langudi will get more international attention.