Sunday, January 08, 2006

Around Dehradun : Kalsi

Kalsi : 14th rock edict of Ashoka
Kalsi is the gateway to Chakrata and is located around 50 km from Dehradun. Besides the gate, the place has a famous historical monument. Located just 200 meters from the gate, it is the 14th rock edict of Ashoka. If you are interested in history, then is one monument you should visit while in Dehradun, specially if you live in Dehradun. Outside travelers may get disappointed to see this monument standing in isolation near a field. There are many such historical monuments spread around gallis and mohallas of Delhi, most of them belonging to the mogul era. But this one belonged to a different era – medieval India. Samrat Ashoka ruled India from 273 BC to 223 BC. It is standing here for several centuries. One can visit this on the way to Chakarata. Arrive around 30 minutes ahead of gate opening time you are planning to catch to be able to visit this monument.

After embracing Buddhism, Samarat Ashoka, the Mauryan king got erected 14 rock edicts spread around his vast empire. These were orders of the king that were expected to be followed by his subjects. This 14th edict was brought into light by britisher John Forest in 1860. The then government of United Province got a dome shaped house erected over it for its protection in mar, 1912. This monument is now protected and looked after by archaeological deptt. of Govt. of India. The piece of rock is about 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide. The front side of the rock is almost completely covered in writings with letters of about 2-inch size. The writings on the rock are in Prakrit language and brahmi script. It generally speaks of the leading principles of Buddhism. But there is no specific mention of Budha or his teachings as such. The edict also has the picture of an elephant on the right hand side.

Brief summery of the edicts of Ashoka :
This is what was collected about edicts of Ashoka from the site. The first prohibits slaughtering and sacrifices of animals. The second provides for medical aid for both man and animal, records sowing of herbs, digging of wells and planting trees. The third enjoins upon his official to form a quinquennial circuit (i.e., travel to a different place every five year) for the promulgation of the teachings of Buddhism, viz. honoring of parents and religious teachers, liberality, tolerance and kindness to animals. The fourth pictures the regeneration of the country under Ashoka’s ordinances. The fifth records appointment of censors of the sacred law. The sixth regulates the manner in which all matters relating to the welfare of his people are to be brought to the king for prompt dispatch of business. The seventh depicts the earnest desire of the king that in every place man of every denomination may abide. The eight compares the carnal amusements formerly patronized by the king (before he adopted dharma) with the more harmless and pious occupation since adopted by him. The ninth deals with auspicious rites. In the tenth, the king deprecates the glory of the material pleasure and gives importance to the joy achieved through promulgation of dharma. The eleventh says that spreading the principles of dharma is a way of alms giving. The twelfth enjoins tolerance in the matter of religion. The thirteen bears special interest as it speaks of five Greek kings. The fourteenth edict is a summary or epilogue of the foregoing.

The road guidance:
At Herbertpur crossing, take the right turn towards Vikasnagar. Kalsi is 14 km from Herbertpur. Dehradun to Herbertpur is 37 km. This road is called the Chakrata Road.

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