A blog discussing life and things in Odisha
courtesy OdishaDiary

Dhauli Kalinga Mahotsav: Odisha’s Celebration of Martial and Physical Arts

Kalinga, the region of the Indian state of Odisha had once witnessed the bloodiest battles in the history of India under the reign of Emperor Ashoka of Maurya Dynasty. After understanding the pointlessness of his Kalinga victory, he became a different man. Upagupta, a Buddhist monk, supported him in attaining enlightenment.

The Pagoda, a symbol of Buddhist legacy in the state Odisha is an enduring symbol of peace and harmony in the world, hence it’s often referred as the International Peace Pagoda. 

Dhauli Kalinga Mahotsav
courtesy Times of India

A three-day festival of Kalinga Mahotsav, which is also known as an exclusive festival of Martial Dances has been celebrated annually since 2003 to pay tribute to the Kalinga war. Approximately 13 years ago, the renowned guru Gangadhar Pradhan introduced the Dhauli Festival. Kalinga Mahotsav was developed by the Italian Odissi performer Ileana Citaristi, settled in Bhubaneswar. In 2011, the festivals were put under one canopy and have become known as Dhauli Kalinga Mahotsav.

The message of peace is reinforced through various performing arts of the classical genre enacted by renowned experts.In order to honor & celebrate the triumph of peace over war, the Mahotsav depicts the dynamic practises of Indian martial arts with dance and music.

The festival is hosted jointly by the State Culture and Tourism Department and Odisha Dance Academy, in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar at Dhauli Shanti Stupa in the month of January-February which allures Martial artists India wide.

Dhauligiri Shanti Stupa facade
Dhauli Shanti Stupa

During the three day festival, the Peace Pagoda transforms itself under the star lit skies and artistic brilliance of the performers leaving the audience with memories to savour for days to come. The festival is a series of genres of traditional music , dance and folk dance that depict India’s diverse cultural tones.

Performances at Dhauli Kalinga Mahotsav 

At Kalinga Mahotsav, the artists display a live performance of various art forms of India such as Chhow and Paika from Odisha, Kalaripayattu from Kerala, Rajbanshi from West Bengal, Mallakhamb Dance from Puri, and Thang Ta from Manipur. 

They demonstrate their abilities by training their mind and body with sticks, blades and different acrobatics. With their swords, arrows and shields, the martial dancers portray impressive postures of combat, self-defense and escape in elegant dance-forms.They thrill the audience with their rhythm and precision of movement. Kalinga Mahotsav’s primary motive is to harmonise the strength of martial heritage with harmony, through the art of dance. 

Location of Dhauli Kalinga Mahotsav

Kalinga Mahotsav is arranged at the foundation of the Dhauli stupa, the Japanese Buddhist Temple on the mountain, on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar . It is the spot where Emperor Ashok, before surrendering the sword and accepting Buddhism, fought the final battle of the great Kalinga. Lord Buddha’s majestic idol looks onto the entire stage from the top of the stupa. The quiet surroundings are created by the peaceful vastness of the countryside inhabited by rice fields and cashew farmlands.

16th Kalinga Festival
16th Kalinga Festival (courtesy OdishaDiary)

Kalinga Mahotsav opens each year with a modern martial art-based choreography accompanied by traditional martial dance styles from different states of India. With fluid dance gestures, the martial dances display a great chemistry of different martial art postures. Martial art styles have been developed and refined since prehistoric times in India. Kalinga Mahotsav is a unique platform and a fantastic forum for building knowledge among the masses of various martial art forms of not just Odisha but of India as a whole.

The spirit of merriment spans languages, continents and cultures as people celebrate their inheritances and ways of life. For all connoisseurs and art historians, this Mahotsav is a great mix of traditional, martial, folk and transient styles of arts, all on an unified platform and certainly a visual delight.

Reaching Dhauli Kalinga Mahotsav

  • Reach Dhauli through Road: Bhubaneshwar is just 8 km while Puri is 60 km and Cuttack is 25 km
  • Reaching Dhauli by Rail: Dhauli is very near to Bhubaneswar which is well connected with Rail Network throughout India.
  • Reach Dhauli by Air: Nearest Airport is the Biju Patnaik Airport in Bhubaneswar. 
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