12 August 2005

The spiritual tourist, 3

I was travelling through Orissa by road, when my driver suggested a visit to Dhauli Giri. Although I had been to Orissa several times, I had never visited Dhauli – a hill on the banks of the river Daya, not far from Bhubaneswar – where a Buddhist shrine exists. I knew nothing about Dhauli, and since that’s exactly how spontaneous my earlier trips to Rajgir and Bodh Gaya were, I knew this was the perfect moment for the spiritual tourist in me.

In the midst of green paddy fields and trees with fresh green leaves, atop a hill, was Dhauli Giri, a Buddhist shanti stupa. It shone from a distance, all white, as if a star had fallen from the sky. As the car manoeuvred the hill, I got off to admire the rock-edicts and the rock-cut elephant a short distance away. On reaching the shrine compound, I looked up to see the Buddha himself, in solid gold, sitting pensively to receive me.

The shrine was white, circular with a dome, and four golden statues of the Buddha facing in four directions… very similar to the Vishwa Shanti stupa at Rajgir. I strolled along the path around the shrine, and then, stood on the edge of the hill watching the river Daya, silver and silent, meandering below. Everything was quiet. A soft breeze caressed my face. Thoughts just appeared and then disappeared from my mind. Nothing seemed to matter anymore. It was simply peaceful.

I have no idea how long I stayed there, but on no other time in my life have I been so much at peace with myself… as I was on that day at Dhauli Giri.


kaa said...

I have visited pligrimages once or twice, but I find the constant keeping yourself at guard - from pickpockets, touts, greedy pujaries etc...very disoncerting.

Also a thing which I noticed was that many of these pilgrimages where on top of mountains, even across religions. Though initially they may been built there for making people walk the distance. But now people have found ropeways and motorable roads.

So I found my own theory - "trekking is spiritual"

sujit said...

you should have also visited the prayer hall on the foothills of Dhauli.

It's a very nice place.

Biswajit said...

@kaa yes, trekking/travel can be a spiritual experience.

@sujit thanks, didn't know about the prayer hall, so next time.

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