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20 Facts About Battle of Kalinga

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 Emporer 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 interesting facts about the Battle of Kalinga:

Battle of kalinga

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


1. Military History of Orissa. Cosmo Publications, New Delhi ISBN 81-7020-282-5

2. The Edicts of King Ashoka

3. Ashoka the Great, Edicts of Ashoka

15 thoughts on “20 Facts About Battle of Kalinga”

  1. war is always horrible.only the wise can can defer or abstain from war. the game of blood never brings the happiness it brings only sorrow and tear.in this context our neighbor Pakistan must understand where buddhism flourished in ancient days .they should be glorify themselves that their soil is soil of Ahimsa

  2. Asoka took 150,000 odias as slaves/captive to Patliputra. If he was affected emotionally by death then why he did so? 2) Asoka was distressed but he did not do the mistake of not adding Kalinga to his empire.

  3. It is said that Ashoka was forced to use weapons of a non-earthly origin to subdue the fierce Kalingan warriors, and that killed not just the Kalingans but also the Mauryans, and destroyed the land, the animals and the water of the Kalinga region. It is also said that Ashoka acquired these weapons from the Navaratnas of Emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain.

    Ashoka was so overwhelmed by the destructive power of these weapons, that he not only renounced war, but also formed a society that would keep the secret of these weapons away from mankind, for eternity.

    The Nine Unknowns apparently still exist, guarding these secrets from mankind.

  4. Everything looks fine here but no body mentioned how Ashok concur Kalinga and why he felt sorry after the war?
    Answer is Ashok won the battle by cheating . in ancient time nobody in India attack on enemy at night during war. but Ashok attacked on Kalinga warriors at night while they were sleeping as per advice of Greek general of Ashok’s army. Due which Kalinga lost so many warriors during war and seeing this kind of killing Ashok felt sorry for it. No where this is mentioned in most of the indian textbox to glorifying the Ashok expect few old books written odia language. why he changed his religion that is another subject. for that you have to understand the political situation of that era India.

  5. Good insight! Added to that, Ashoka also diplomatically avoid the future war by saying the concept of non-violence. Since his army also nearly devastated in the Kalinga war.


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