Ashokan Places. A Tour in Madhya Pradesh with Meera Dass and Susanne Rau

In April 2023, Dr. Meera Dass visited a series of places linked to the Ashokan period in Madhya Pradesh, together with Prof. Dr. Susanne Rau. Dr. Dass is a former Research Fellow of the „Religion and Urbanity“ group based at the University of Erfurt in Germany. While in Erfurt, Dr. Dass wrote an essay on the Besnagar pillars and religious sites of Vidisha, which she also discusses in this video.

The term Ashokan period refers to the rule of the third Mauryan emperor in India, Ashoka the Great, who ruled from about 268 to 232 BCE. The Mauryan Empire existed from 322 BCE until about 185 BCE on the South Asian subcontinent. During Ashoka‘s reign, the empire controlled most urban centres of the time, excepting those to the very south.

The initial stop was at the District Museum at Vidisha, where amongst other exhibits, Dr. Dass discussed a Yaksa and Yaski statue from the 2nd century BCE. Following this, Dr. Dass shows us the Khambaba site where the well known Heliodorus Pillar from the 4th century BCE has been preserved – unlike a local Vishnu temple. Close to the town of Udayagiri another historical site from the Ashokan period has been preserved – in this case a number of caves with accompanying pillars. At the world heritage site of the Buddhist stupas in Sanchi, Dr. Dass then explained their relation to Ashoka and together with Prof. Rau discussed the background to Ashoka‘s interest in developing an urban settlement at Sanchi.

The material for this film was shot in April 2023 during a research trip in the context of the Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies/ Kollegforschungsgruppe „Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations“ (DFG, FOR 2779).

Cite this blog post
urbrel (2023, October 4). Ashokan Places. A Tour in Madhya Pradesh with Meera Dass and Susanne Rau. Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations. Retrieved June 15, 2024, from

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