Ashoka Rock Edict in Delhi-How Not to Preserve History

I was recently staying with ITC Maurya in Delhi. As the name suggests the hotel is inspired by the Mauryan Dynasty and particularly the Emperor Ashoka! They took us on a visit the Ashoka Rock Edict in Delhi! The place is close to the ISCON Temple at East of Kailash. If you search ‘Ashoka Rock Edict Delhi’, you get the location on the Google Maps too! But as we did not know what to search for, we had some trouble finding the historical site. There are absolutely no signposts around! There was no board outside.

The place is set in a large garden. There are rocks strewn at one side. We started walking towards them! A security guard materialized out of nowhere but he didn’t say much to us. He only pointed out the path leading to the rock!


The Cowshed Like Structure that Protects the Ashoka’s Rock Edict!

I was completely aghast the way the rock edict was protected. If I did not know, I would think I was looking at a cowshed! The concrete structure was so ugly, it is in no way befitting to the great king Ashoka! The iron grill add nothing to the history. At the best it looks like a cowshed or a storage facility!

That it hardly gets any visitors is not surprising! In any country that took pride in its history, such a place would have have been preserved with pride and showcased well.

Don’t get me wrong I perfectly understand the need to protect the rock edict. Otherwise the scribbling gang would descend on it and deface it beyond recognition. But who in their right mind would approve such an ugly structure over an important piece of history?

About the actual rock edict, I hardly got a glimpse! I could see a rock inside the enclosure and something written on it. Wikipedia gives this translation

“It is two and half years since I became a Buddhist layman. At first no great exertion was made by me but in the last year I have drawn closer to the Buddhist order and exerted myself zealously and drawn in others to mingle with the gods. This goal is not one restricted only to let the people great to exert themselves and to the great but even a humble man who exerts himself can reach heaven. This proclamation is made for the following purpose: to encourage the humble and the great to exert themselves and to let the people who live beyond the borders of the kingdom know about it. Exertion in the cause must endure forever and it will spread further among the people so that it increases one-and-half fold.”


The Signboard within the Premises!

There is a signboard inside the premises which also gives us the history of the rock edict.

But seriously I cannot get over the fact that someone ordered such a shabby structure over an important historical monument from the time of the great Mauryan Emperor Ashoka!

PS. My trip to Ashoka Rock Edict was sponsored by ITC Maurya but the views expressed here are entirely my own!

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36 thoughts on “Ashoka Rock Edict in Delhi-How Not to Preserve History”

  1. It is so unfortunate that the glory of our history lies in ruins today…it is the sorry state of of almost all the sites. I didn’t know about it…thanks for bringing it up. Sharing this:-)

    • Yes Amit, I wonder why we take our heritage so casually?

    • Yes Prasad it should not have come as a shock but it did!

    • True Sushmita, even a cow shed people will paint and decorate!

  2. This is really sad. However, I am glad that not many people know about this place and visit it. Otherwise, you will find love messages (Raju loves Pinky, Sanjay and Dimple were here 1998, etc.) carved in all the rocks.

    Delhi has many such completely neglected and decomposing sites. Forget about historical sites, we Indians know how to completely destroy beauty of natural sites (one troubling example is Kempty Falls in Mussoorie). दुखती रग पर हाथ रख दिया…

    – Atul

  3. I don’t think Indians cared much about history and much less about preserving history. Delhi being what it has turned out to be cares even lesser. We should be grateful as Indians to whoever put up that cowshed like structure so that someone could go and visit this place. We care even less for what these folks conveyed to the successive generations. But that is India or Delhi today. A shame of a capital for a great country ruled by a bunch of jokers who care more about spending a few crores in advertisements across India in several languages to promote one dictator who is destined to ruin the city forever! Where does that poor man find time for all these edicts and monuments that are supposed to embellish a historical city like Delhi?? Really saddened to read this article.

    • Who is this dictator? I thought in India everyone had to win in an election at least 😀

    • I don’t know which will come first? I guess it is the questioning that makes us notice things!

  4. I can quite understand and feel the angst , there are plenty of such abandoned pieces of heritage and it completely gets me tearing my hair off when I see them.

  5. Even I visited all the places of Delhi , very less popular too but I never heard about it . Now you are being an explorer so may be after few years we will come to know Mridula Dwivedi as not a management Guru but as a Professor of History , hehe !! Thank you so much Mridula ji for introducing a new & historical place in Delhi , very close to me.

  6. What is wrong with the ASI? Sometimes they get it so wrong! This is embarrassing and certainly not a place one wants to visit or take anyone to.

  7. I douns something similar in Viratnagar, Rajasthan, an epitaph of Ashoka. But beyond the iron grill, I couldnt find anything. Was it stolen? Did I fail to see it? Who knows…

  8. What to say of this lesser known Delhi rock edict. Even the best known and longest rock edict of Girnar, Gujarat is lying unprotected in the rain without any care, The authorities have kept the actual rock edict in open and unconcerned area covered with shade to show that that the construction activity is in progress.

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