20 Agonizing Battle of Kalinga Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
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The Battle of Kalinga was one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in Indian subcontinent. So devastating were the consequences of this battle that the ruthless Mauryan Emperor Ashoka eventually walked the path of peace and adopted Buddhism.

He later ruled the vast Mauryan Empire for 40 years with harmony, peace and prosperity. These 40 years of peaceful reign earned him the title ‘Ashoka the Great’. Here are 20 agonizing Battle of Kalinga facts for you to read.

Battle of Kalinga Facts: 1-5

1. It was the bloodiest and the most infamous war ever fought between State of Kalinga (present-day Odisha) and Mauryan Empire.

2. The war was fought in 261 B.C. and was won by the Mauryan Dynasty.

battle of kalinga facts

3. The Mauryan army was led by Emperor Ashoka while the Kalinga army was led by Raja Anantha Padmanabhan.

4. The Battle of Kalinga began in 8th year of Ashoka’s rule. Before the battle started, Ashoka sent a letter to King of Kalinga or Kalingaraj where Ashoka asked for complete submission of Kalinga to the Mauryan Empire. This was refused by Kalingaraj.

5. Ashoka’s grandfather, Emperor Chandragupta Maurya tried to conquer Kalinga once but was unsuccessful.

Battle of Kalinga Facts: 6-10

6. Emperor Bindusara, father of Emperor Ashoka, was in a process of territorial expansion but the independent feudal republic of Kalinga was a major hindrance both politically and economically.

7. Emperor Bindusara also made attempts to conquer Kalinga but was defeated.

8. After death of Emperor Bindusara, Emperor Ashoka took a complete charge to annex the State of Kalinga.

9. When Raja Anantha Padmanabhan declined the proposal of complete submission to Mauryan Empire, Emperor Ashoka led an enormous army to Kalinga.

10. The Battle of Kalinga was the only battle in which Emperor Ashoka was present physically.

Battle of Kalinga Facts: 11-15

11. The battle was fought on Dhauli hill and later the whole State of Kalinga was turned into a bloody battlefield.

12. The battle was fierce and claimed the lives of 150,000 warriors of Kalinga and 100,000 Mauryan warriors.

13. It is being said that the battle was so fierce that in aftermath of the battle, Daya River flowing next to the battlefield turned completely red because of the bloodshed.

14. Several thousands of men and women of Kalinga were deported.

15. Emperor Ashoka did win the Battle of Kalinga and the State of Kalinga was eventually annexed by Mauryan Empire but the sheer number of lives lost and the sight of hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded scattered all other the battlefield filled Emperor Ashoka’s heart with remorse and grief.

Battle of Kalinga Facts: 16-20

16. It is said in oral history that one woman of Kalinga came to Ashoka after the war and said that the battle took away her husband, father and son from her and she has nothing to live for. Those words moved Emperor Ashoka so much that he adopted the Buddhism and walked the path of Ahimsa or non-violence.

17. After the Battle of Kalinga, Emperor Ashoka ended his military conquests and completely stopped the territorial expansion policy of Mauryan Empire.

18. Edicts of Ashoka have records of the response of Emperor Ashoka to Kalinga War.

19. After the battle, Ashoka embraced the concept of Dhammavijaya or Victory through Dhamma.

20. Ashoka sent missionaries to Srilanka, Macedonia, Greece and Syria to spread the message of Buddhism and peace.

Was Samrat Ashoka Really Great?

Often the history we are taught is skewed and full of propaganda. We learned about Ashoka in our schools. The question is, did we learn the correct history? Do you know an alternate history? It is about time you come forward and discuss. Remember, not everything about history is truth!


1. Military History of Orissa. Cosmo Publications, New Delhi ISBN 81-7020-282-5
2. Detailed History of Odisha
3. The Edicts of King Ashoka
4. Ashoka the Great, Edicts of Ashoka

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