When Ashoka, the son of the Mauryan emperor Bindusara and the grandson of Chandragupta Maurya, ascended the throne of Magadha in 273 B.C. treading in the footsteps of his forefathers he set out to expand his empire. In the 12th year of his reign, he sent a message to Kalinga asking its submission, but the Kalingaraj refused to submit to the Mauryan empire.
As a result Ashoka lead a huge army against Kalinga. This took place in 261 B.C., the freedom loving people of Kalinga offered a stiff resistance to the Mauryan army. The whole of Kalinga turned into a battle arena. History offers us but few examples of such fiercely fought wars as this. The Kalingaraj himself commanded his army in the battle field. However, the limited forces of Kalinga were no match for the overwhelming Magadha army. Contrary to Ashoka's expectations, the people of Kalinga fought with such great valor that on number of occasions they came very close to a victory. The soldiers of Kalinga perished in the battlefield fighting till their last breath for their independence. The victory ultimately rested with Ashoka.