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Stupa 1, Sanchi 02.jpg
The Great Stupa of Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, India
A stupa (chorten) in Samye, Lhasa, Tibet
2016 Rangun, Pagoda Szwedagon (023).jpg
Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar
Ruwanwelisaya Stupa 18.JPG
Ruwanweliseya, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka
Various architectural styles of stupa: Sanchi, Tibetan, Burmese, and Sri Lankan
Translations of
Sanskrit स्तूप
Pali 𑀣𑀼𑀩𑁂 ("thube"), thūpa
Bengali স্তূপ
Burmese စေတီ
(MLCTS: zèdì)
Chinese 窣堵坡
(Pinyin: sūdǔpō)
Japanese 卒塔婆
(Rōmaji: sotoba)
Khmer ចេតិយ, ស្តូប
(UNGEGN: chétĕy, stob)
Korean 솔도파
(RR: soldopha)
Mongolian суварга
Sinhala දාගැබ්
Tibetan མཆོད་རྟེན་
(mchod rten (chorten))
Tamil தாது கோபுரம்
Thai สถูป, เจดีย์
(RTGS: sa thup, chedi)
Vietnamese Phù đồ, bảo tháp
Glossary of Buddhism

In Buddhism, a stupa (Sanskrit : स्तूप, lit. 'heap', IAST : stūpa) is a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics (such as śarīra – typically the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns) that is used as a place of meditation. [1]


Circumambulation, or pradakhshina , has been an important ritual and devotional practice in Buddhism since the earliest times, and stupas always have a pradakhshina path around them. The original South Asian form is a large solid dome above a tholobate, or drum, with vertical sides, which usually sits on a square base. There is no access to the inside of the structure. In large stupas, there may be walkways for circumambulation on top of the base as well as on the ground below it. Large stupas have, or had, vedikā railings outside the path around the base, often highly decorated with sculpture, especially at the torana gateways, of which there are usually four. At the top of the dome is a thin vertical element, with one or more horizontal discs spreading from it. These were chatras, symbolic umbrellas, and have not survived, if not restored. The Great Stupa at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, is the most famous and best-preserved early stupa in India.

Apart from very large stupas, designed to attract pilgrims, there were large numbers of smaller stupas in a whole range of sizes, which typically had much taller drums, relative to the height of the dome. Small votive stupas paid for by pilgrims might be less than a metre high, and laid out in rows by the hundred, as at Ratnagiri, Odisha, India.

As Buddhism spread, other forms were used for the same purposes, and the chortens of Tibetan Buddhism and pagodas of East Asian Buddhism are some of these. In Southeast Asia, various rather different elongated shapes of dome evolved, leading to high, thin spires. lA related architectural term is a chaitya , which is a prayer hall or temple containing a stupa.

Description and history

Megalithic burial mound (tumulus) with chamber, India Megalithic burial mound, India.jpg
Megalithic burial mound (tumulus) with chamber, India
The "Tomb of Midas" in Gordion, dated to circa 740 BCE
Bin Tepe, funeral mound.jpg
Royal funeral tumulus of King Alyattes, Lydia, 6th c. BCE
Amrit Sepolcro - GAR - 1-01.jpg
Amrit, Phoenicia, 5th c. BCE

Stupas may have originated as pre-Buddhist tumuli in which śramaṇas were buried in a seated position, [2] called caitya. [3]

In early Buddhist inscriptions in India, stupa and caitya appear to be almost interchangeable, though caitya has a broader meaning, and unlike stupa does not define an architectural form. In pre-Buddhist India, caitya was a term for a shrine, sanctuary, or holy place in the landscape, generally outdoors, inhabited by, or sacred to, a particular deity. In the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra , near the end of his life, the Buddha remarks to Ananda how beautiful are the various caitya around Vaishali. [4] In later times and in other countries, cetiya/caitya implies the presence of important relics. Both words have forms prefixed by maha for "great", "large", or "important", but scholars find the difference between a mahastupa and a stupa, or mahacetiya and cetiya, hard to pin down. [5]

Some authors have suggested that stupas were derived from a wider cultural tradition from the Mediterranean to the Ganges Valley [6] and can be related to the conical mounds on circular bases from the 8th century BCE that are found in Phrygia (tomb of Midas, 8th c. BCE), Lydia (tomb of Alyattes, 6th c. BCE), or in Phoenicia (tombs of Amrit, 5th c. BCE). [7] [8] Some authors suggest stupas emerged from megalithic mound burials with chambers, which likely represent proto-stupas. [9] [10] [11]

Archaeologists in India have observed that a number of early Buddhist stupas or burials are found in the vicinity of much older, pre-historic burials, including megalithic burial sites. [10] This includes sites associated with the Indus Valley Civilization, where broken Indus-era pottery was incorporated into later Buddhist burials. [10] Scholars have noted structural and functional features of the stupa (including its general mound shape and the practice of surrounding stupas with a stone, relic chamber, or wooden railing) with both pre-Mauryan-era cairn and pre-historic megalithic "round mound" burials with chambers found in India, which likely represent a "proto-stupa". [12] [10] In Dholavira, an archeological site associated with the Indus Valley Civilization, there are several large and high "hemispherical monuments" of tumulus with brick-masonry found with burial chambers inside. Among them, Tumulus-1 and Tumulus-2 mounds were excavated. They consist of a deep and wide rock-cut chamber, surrounded on the ground by a massive circular mud-brick structure made in two tiers, and filled in and topped with earth to form a domical shape. [13] There is also evidence of plastering on the exterior of Tumulus-1, bearing a 10- mm-thick plaster of pinkish-white clay over brick masonry. [13] These forms of hemispherical monuments or tumulus of brick-masonry with similar layouts may have been inspirations for later stupas. [11] Some stupas not believed to have been looted have been found empty when excavated, as have some pre-historic cairn sites, and animal bones are suspected to have occasionally been deposited at both types of sites. [10]

Mounds for the relics of the Buddha (5th century BCE)

The Piprahwa stupa is one of the earliest surviving stupas. Stupas-Original-00020.jpg
The Piprahwa stupa is one of the earliest surviving stupas.
Buddha's ashes stupa built by the Licchavis, Vaishali, and one of the earliest stupas Buddha's ashes Stupa, Vaishali, Bihar.jpg
Buddha's ashes stupa built by the Licchavis, Vaishali, and one of the earliest stupas

Religious buildings in the form of the Buddhist stupa, a dome-shaped structure, started to be used in India as commemorative monuments associated with storing sacred relics of the Buddha. [14] After his parinirvana, Buddha's remains were cremated and the ashes divided and buried under eight mounds, with two further mounds encasing the urn and the embers. [14]

According to some early Buddhist sources, the Buddha himself had suggested this treatment, and when asked what a stupa was, had demonstrated the basic design: he folded his robe on the ground, placed his begging bowl upside down on it, with his staff above that. [15]

The relics of the Buddha were spread between eight stupas, in Rajagriha, Vaishali, Kapilavastu, Allakappa, Ramagrama, Pava, Kushinagar, and Vethapida. [16] The Piprahwa stupa also seems to have been one of the first to be built. [16] Lars Fogelin has stated that the Vaishali and Nigali Sagar stupas are likely the earliest archaeologically known stupas. [17] [18]

Guard rails—consisting of posts, crossbars, and a coping—became a feature of safety surrounding a stupa. [19] The Buddha had left instructions about how to pay homage to the stupas: "And whoever lays wreaths or puts sweet perfumes and colours there with a devout heart, will reap benefits for a long time". [20] This practice would lead to the decoration of the stupas with stone sculptures of flower garlands in the Classical[ clarification needed ] period. [20]

Expansion under Ashoka (250 BCE)

An early stupa, 6 meters (20 ft) in diameter, with fallen umbrella on side at Chakpat, near Chakdara; probably Maurya, 3rd century BCE Early stupa 6 meters in diameter with fallen umbrella on side in Chakpat near Chakdara.jpg
An early stupa, 6 meters (20 ft) in diameter, with fallen umbrella on side at Chakpat, near Chakdara; probably Maurya, 3rd century BCE

According to Buddhist tradition, Emperor Ashoka (rule: 273—232 BCE) recovered the relics of the Buddha from the earlier stupas (except from the Ramagrama stupa), and erected 84,000 stupas to distribute the relics across India. In effect, many stupas are thought to date originally from the time of Ashoka, such as Sanchi or Kesariya, where he also erected pillars with his inscriptions, and possibly Bharhut, Amaravati, or Dharmarajika. [16] Ashoka also established the Pillars of Ashoka throughout his realm, generally next to Buddhist stupas.

The first known appearance of the word "stupa" is from an inscribed dedication by Ashoka on the Nigali Sagar pillar (spelled in Pali in the Brahmi script as 𑀣𑀼𑀩𑁂 thube ). [22]

Decorated stupas (from 125 BCE)

Stupas were soon to be richly decorated with sculptural reliefs, following the first attempts at Sanchi Stupa No.2 (125 BCE). Full-fledged sculptural decorations and scenes of the life of the Buddha would soon follow at Bharhut (115 BCE), Bodh Gaya (60 BCE), Mathura (125-60 BCE), again at Sanchi for the elevation of the toranas (1st century BCE/CE), and then Amaravati (1st–2nd century CE). [23] The decorative embellishment of stupas also underwent considerable development in the northwest, in the area of Gandhara, with instances such as the Butkara Stupa ("monumentalized" with Hellenistic decorative elements from the 2nd century BCE) [24] or the Loriyan Tangai stupas (2nd century CE).

Development in Gandhara (3rd century BCE–5th century CE)

Butkara Stupa in Gandhara ButkaraStupa.jpg
Butkara Stupa in Gandhara
The Ahin Posh stupa was dedicated in the 2nd century CE under the Kushans and contained coins of Kaniska I. Ahin Posh stupa reconstitution, Simpson 1878.jpg
The Ahin Posh stupa was dedicated in the 2nd century CE under the Kushans and contained coins of Kaniska I.
Manikyala Stupa, from the period of Kaniska I Restored view of the Manikyala Stupa.jpg
Manikyala Stupa, from the period of Kaniska I

The stupa underwent major evolutions in the area of Gandhara. Since Buddhism spread to Central Asia, China, and ultimately Korea and Japan through Gandhara, the stylistic evolution of the Gandharan stupa was very influential in the later development of the stupa (and related artistic or architectural forms) in these areas. [27] The Gandhara stupa followed several steps, generally moving towards more and more elevation and addition of decorative elements, leading eventually to the development of the pagoda tower. [28] The main stupa types are, in chronological order:

  1. The Dharmarajika Stupa, with a near-Indian design of a semi-hemispheric stupa almost directly on the ground surface, probably dated to the 3rd century BCE. Similar stupas are the Butkara Stupa, the Manikyala stupa, or the Chakpat stupa. [21]
  2. The Saidu Sharif Stupa, pillared and quincunxial, with a flight of stairs to a dome elevated on a square platform. Many Gandhara miniatures represent this type (1st century CE). [29]
  3. The Loriyan Tangai stupa, with an elongated shape and many narrative reliefs, in many ways the classic Gandharan stupa (2nd century CE). [30]
  4. The near-pyramidal Jaulian stupa (2nd century CE). [31]
  5. The cruciform type, as in the Bhamala Stupa, with flights of stairs in the four cardinal directions (4th century CE). [32]
  6. The towering design of the second Kanishka Stupa (4th–5th century CE). [33]

Origin of the pyramidal temple

Pyramidal temples
Kumrahar Mahabodhi plaque.jpg
The Mahabodhi Temple in 150–200 CE
Top of Temple.jpg
The Mahabodhi Temple: a stepped pyramid with round stupa on top [36]
India, Bihar, 10th century - Model of the Sikhara of a Buddhist Temple - 1971.167 - Cleveland Museum of Art.tif
Model of the sikhara of a Buddhist temple; 900s

It is thought that the temple in the shape of a truncated pyramid may have derived from the design of the stepped stupas that developed in Gandhara. The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya is one such example, formed of a succession of steps with niches containing Buddha images, alternating with Greco-Roman pillars. [36] The structure is crowned by the shape of a hemispherical stupa topped by finials, forming a logical elongation of the stepped Gandharan stupas such as those seen in Jaulian. [36]

Although the current structure of the Mahabdhodi Temple dates to the Gupta period (5th century CE), the "Plaque of Mahabhodi Temple", discovered in Kumrahar and dated to 150–200 CE, based on its dated Kharoshthi inscriptions and combined finds of Huvishka coins, suggests that the pyramidal structure already existed in the 2nd century CE. [36] This is confirmed by archaeological excavations in Bodh Gaya. [36]

This truncated pyramid design also marked the evolution from the aniconic stupa dedicated to the cult of relics, to the iconic temple with multiple images of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. [36] This design was very influential in the development of later Hindu temples. [37]

Expansion in Asia

Asian stupas

The Chinese Songyue Pagoda (523 CE) is thought to derive from the Gandharan tower-stupa model. Pagoda of Songyue Temple, 2015-09-25 20.jpg
The Chinese Songyue Pagoda (523 CE) is thought to derive from the Gandharan tower-stupa model.
Row of chorten stupas on roadside east of Leh, Ladakh Row of stupas on roadside east of Leh, Ladakh.jpg
Row of chorten stupas on roadside east of Leh, Ladakh

Stupa architecture was adopted in Southeast and East Asia, where it became prominent as a Buddhist monument used for enshrining sacred relics. [14] The Indian gateway arches, torana, reached East Asia with the spread of Buddhism. [39] Some scholars hold that torii derives from the torana gates at the Buddhist historic site of Sanchi (3rd century BCE–11th century CE). [40] In Tibet, the stupa became the chorten, [41] and the pagoda in East Asia. [42] The pagoda has varied forms that also include bell-shaped and pyramidal styles. In the Western context, there is no clear distinction between a stupa and a pagoda. In general, however, "stupa" is the term used for a Buddhist structure in India or Southeast Asia, while "pagoda" refers to a building in East Asia that can be entered and that may be used for secular purposes. However, use of the term varies by region. For example, stupas in Burma tend to be referred to as "pagodas".[ citation needed ]

Stupas were built in Sri Lanka soon after Devanampiya Tissa of Anuradhapura converted to Buddhism. The first was the Thuparamaya. Later, many more were built over the years, including the Jetavanaramaya in Anuradhapura.

Development of the pagoda

The Asian words for pagoda ( in Chinese, t'ap in Korean, tháp in Vietnamese, in Japanese) are all thought to derive from the Pali word for stupa, thupa, with the Sanskrit pronunciation being stupa. [43] In particular the type of the tower-like stupa, the last stage of Gandharan stupa development, visible in the second Kanishka Stupa (4th century), is thought to be the precursor of the tower stupas in Turkestan and the Chinese pagodas such as Songyue Pagoda (523 CE). [38]

Notable stupas

Borobudur bell-shaped stupas Borobudur temple panorama.jpg
Borobudur bell-shaped stupas

The earliest archaeological evidence for the presence of Buddhist stupas dates to the late 4th century BCE. Some of the oldest known examples of stupas are found in Vaishali, Kushinagar, Piprahwa, Ramgram, Sanchi, Sarnath, Amaravati, and Bharhut.

With the top of its spire reaching 120.45 m (395.2 ft) in height, Phra Pathommachedi in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand is the tallest extant stupa in the world. [44] The Swat Valley hosts a well-preserved stupa at Shingardar near Ghalegay; another stupa is located near Barikot and Dharmarajika-Taxila in Pakistan. In Sri Lanka, the ancient city of Anuradhapura includes some of the tallest, most ancient, and best-preserved stupas in the world, such as Ruwanwelisaya.

The most elaborate stupa is the 8th-century Borobudur monument in Java, Indonesia. The upper rounded terrace, with rows of bell-shaped stupas, contain Buddha images symbolizing Arūpajhāna, the sphere of formlessness. The main stupa itself is empty, symbolizing complete perfection of enlightenment. The main stupa is the crown part of the monument, while the base is a pyramidal structure elaborated with galleries adorned with bas-relief scenes derived from Buddhist texts and depicting the life of Gautama Buddha. Borobudur's unique and significant architecture has been acknowledged by UNESCO as the largest Buddhist monument in the world. It is also the world's largest Buddhist temple [45] [46] as well as one of the greatest Buddhist monuments in the world. [47]

A Jain stupa, Mathura, 1st century CE Holi relief, Mathura, c1st century CE.jpg
A Jain stupa, Mathura, 1st century CE

A Jain stupa was excavated at Mathura in the 19th century. [48]

The Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar, is one of the largest stupas in the world.

European stupas

The Benalmádena Stupa is the tallest stupa in Europe. It is 33 m (108 ft) high and was inaugurated on 5 October 2003, the final project of Buddhist master Lopon Tsechu Rinpoche. Lopon Tsechu built his first stupa at Karma Guen near Málaga, in 1994, [49] a symbol of peace and prosperity for Spain. [50] He went on to build 16 more stupas in Europe before his death in 2003.

A stupa was built on the ground of the Kalachakra Kalapa Centre in southwest Styria, Austria, between 2000 and 2002.

A stupa based on the bell-shaped stupas at Borobudur is located at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, near Hemel Hempstead, in the UK. [51]

Types of stupas

Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal Boudha Stupa 2018 04.jpg
Boudhanath Stupa, Kathmandu, Nepal

Built for a variety of reasons, Buddhist stupas are classified, based on form and function, into five types: [52]


View of the Wat Phra Kaew complex from the northeast Grand Palace Bangkok.jpg
View of the Wat Phra Kaew complex from the northeast

"The shape of the stupa represents the Buddha, crowned and sitting in meditation posture on a lion throne. His crown is the top of the spire; his head is the square at the spire's base; his body is the vase shape; his legs are the four steps of the lower terrace; and the base is his throne." [53]

Five purified elements

Although not described in any Tibetan text on stupa symbolism, the stupa may represent the five purified elements, according to Buddhism: [54]


To build a stupa, Dharma transmission and ceremonies known to a Buddhist teacher are necessary. [55] The type of stupa to be constructed in a certain area is decided together with the teacher assisting in the construction. Sometimes the type chosen is directly connected with events that have taken place in the area. [55]

The sharing of the relics of the Buddha. Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, 2-3rd century CE. ZenYouMitsu Temple Museum, Tokyo. EndAscetism.JPG
The sharing of the relics of the Buddha. Greco-Buddhist art of Gandhara, 2–3rd century CE. ZenYouMitsu Temple Museum, Tokyo.
Buddha relics from the Kanishka stupa in Peshawar, Pakistan. These surviving relics are now housed in Mandalay, Myanmar. Buddha relics.JPG
Buddha relics from the Kanishka stupa in Peshawar, Pakistan. These surviving relics are now housed in Mandalay, Myanmar.


All stupas contain a treasury filled with various objects. Small clay votive offerings called tsatsas in Tibetan fill most of the treasury. The creation of the tsatsas is itself a ceremony. Mantras written on paper are made into thin rolls and put into small clay stupas. [55] One layer of tsatsas is placed in the treasury, and the empty space between them is filled with dry sand. On the thus-created new surface, another layer of tsatsas is made, and so on, until the entire space of the treasury is full. [55]

The number of tsatsas required to completely fill the treasury depends on its size and the size of the tsatsa. For example, the Kalachakra stupa in southern Spain contains approximately 14,000 tsatsas. [55]

Jewellery and other "precious" objects are also placed in the treasury. It is not necessary that they be expensive, since it is the symbolic value that is important, not the market price. [55] It is believed that the more objects are placed in the stupa, the stronger its energy. [55]

Tree of Life

An important element in every stupa is the "Tree of Life". This is a wooden pole covered with gems and thousands of mantras; it is placed in the central channel of the stupa. [55] It is positioned during a ceremony or initiation, where the participants hold colorful ribbons connected to the Tree of Life. Together, the participants make their most positive and powerful wishes, which are stored in the Tree of Life. In this way, the stupa is charged and starts to function. [55]


Building a stupa is considered extremely beneficial, leaving very positive karmic imprints in the mind. Future benefits from this action are said to result in fortunate rebirths. Fortunate worldly benefits also result, such as being born into a rich family, having a beautiful body, a nice voice, bringing joy to others, and having a long and happy life in which one's wishes are quickly fulfilled. [56] On the absolute level, one will also be able to quickly reach enlightenment, the goal of Buddhism. [56]

Destroying a stupa, on the other hand, is considered an extremely negative deed, similar to murder. [57] Such an action is said to create massive negative karmic imprints, leading to serious future problems. It is said this action leaves the mind in a state of paranoia after death has occurred, leading to unfortunate rebirths. [57]

Tibetan stupas

The Eight Great Stupas Eight great stupas.svg
The Eight Great Stupas
Row of chortens at roadside near Leh, Ladakh Row of chortens at roadside near Kaza, Lahul & Spiti.jpg
Row of chortens at roadside near Leh, Ladakh

Stupas in Tibet and Tibetan-influenced regions of the Himalayas, such as Bhutan, are usually called "chorten" in English, reflecting the term in the Tibetan language. There are eight different shapes of chortens in Tibetan Buddhism, each referring to a major event in the Buddha's life. [54] Chortens are often made as a set, placed in a row. The Tibetan set differs slightly (by two events) from the Indian set of Eight Great Events in the Life of Buddha.

Lotus Blossom Stupa

Also known as "Stupa of Heaped Lotuses", or "Birth of the Sugata Stupa", this stupa refers to the birth of Gautama Buddha. "At birth Buddha took seven steps in each of the four directions" [54] (east, south, west, and north). In each direction, lotuses sprang up, symbolizing the brahmaviharas: love, compassion, joy, and equanimity. The base of this stupa is circular and has four steps, and it is decorated with lotus-petal designs. Occasionally, seven heaped lotus steps are constructed. These refer to the seven first steps of the Buddha. [54]

Enlightenment Stupa

Enlightenment Stupa at Ogoy Island, Russia Ogoy Stupa 1 1600x1200.JPG
Enlightenment Stupa at Ogoy Island, Russia

Also known as the "Stupa of the Conquest of Mara", this stupa symbolizes the 35-year-old Buddha's attainment of enlightenment under the bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, where he conquered worldly temptations and attacks, manifesting in the form of Mara. [54]

Stupa of Many Doors

This stupa is also known as the "Stupa of Many Gates". After reaching enlightenment, the Buddha taught his first students in a deer park near Sarnath. The series of doors on each side of the steps represents the first teachings: the Four Noble Truths, the Six Pāramitās, the Noble Eightfold Path, and the Twelve Nidānas. [54]

Stupa of Descent from the God Realm

At 42 years of age, Buddha spent a summer retreat in the Tuṣita Heaven, where his mother had taken rebirth. In order to repay her kindness, he taught the dharma to her rebirth. Local inhabitants built a stupa in Sankassa in order to commemorate this event. This type of stupa is characterized by having a central projection at each side, containing a triple ladder, or steps. [54]

Stupa of Great Miracles

Also known as the "Stupa of Conquest of the Tirthikas", this stupa refers to various miracles performed by the Buddha when he was 50 years old. Legend claims that he overpowered maras and heretics by engaging them in intellectual arguments and also by performing miracles. This stupa was raised by the Lichavi kingdom to commemorate the event. [54]

Stupa of Reconciliation

This stupa commemorates the Buddha's resolution of a dispute among the sangha . A stupa in this design was built in the kingdom of Magadha, where the reconciliation occurred. It has four octagonal steps with equal sides. [54]

Stupa of Complete Victory

This stupa commemorates Buddha's successful prolonging of his life by three months. It has only three steps, which are circular and unadorned. [54]

Stupa of Nirvana

This stupa refers to the parinirvana , or death of the Buddha, when he was 80 years old. It symbolizes his complete absorption into the highest state of mind. It is bell-shaped and usually unornamented. [54]

Kalachakra stupa

A ninth kind of stupa exists, the Kalachakra stupa. Its symbolism is not connected to events in the Buddha's life but instead to the symbolism of the Kalachakra Tantra, created to protect against negative energies. [58]


Kathmandu, Nepal

See also

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Buddhist religious architecture developed in the Indian subcontinent. Three types of structures are associated with the religious architecture of early Buddhism: monasteries (viharas), places to venerate relics (stupas), and shrines or prayer halls, which later came to be called temples in some places.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bharhut</span> Archeological site in Madhya Pradesh, India

Bharhut is a village located in the Satna district of Madhya Pradesh, central India. It is known for its famous relics from a Buddhist stupa. What makes Bharhut panels unique is that each panel is explicitly labelled in Brahmi characters mentioning what the panel depicts. The major donor for the Bharhut stupa was King Dhanabhuti.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kanishka Stupa</span> Stupa on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan

The Kanishka Stupa was a monumental stupa established by the Kushan king Kanishka during the 2nd century CE in today's Shaji-ki-Dheri on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dharmarajika Stupa</span> Ancient Buddhist stupa and archaeological site in Punjab, Pakistan

The Dharmarajika Stupa, also referred to as the Great Stupa of Taxila, is a Buddhist stupa near Taxila, Pakistan. It was built over the relics of the Buddha by Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. The stupa, along with the large monastic complex that later developed around it, forms part of the Ruins of Taxila - which were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kesaria Stupa</span> Mauryan era stupa in East Champaran district of Bihar, India

Kesariya stupa is a Buddhist stupa in Kesariya, located at a distance of 110 kilometres (68 mi) from Patna, in the East Champaran district of Bihar, India. Construction of the stupa at this site began in the 3rd century BCE. Kesariya Stupa has a circumference of almost 400 feet (120 m) and a height of about 104 feet (32 m).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Parinirvana Stupa</span>

The Parinirvana Stupa or Mahaparinirvana Temple is a Buddhist temple in Kushinagar, India which is said to be the place of death of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. Alexander Cunningham gains the most attention for his work in the area, because he conclusively proved that Gautama Buddha had died in the area. The present temple was built by the Indian Government in 1956 as part of the commemoration of the 2,500th year of the Mahaparinivana or 2500 BE. Inside this temple, there is a Reclining Buddha image lying on its right side with the head to the north. The statue is 6.1 m long and rests on a stone couch.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Amaravati Stupa</span> Historic site in Andhra Pradesh, India

Amarāvati Stupa is a ruined Buddhist stūpa at the village of Amaravathi, Palnadu district, Andhra Pradesh, India, probably built in phases between the third century BCE and about 250 CE. It was enlarged and new sculptures replaced the earlier ones, beginning in about 50 CE. The site is under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India, and includes the stūpa itself and the Archaeological Museum.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hellenistic influence on Indian art</span>

Hellenistic influence on Indian art and architecture reflects the artistic and architectural influence of the Greeks on Indian art following the conquests of Alexander the Great, from the end of the 4th century BCE to the first centuries of the common era. The Greeks in effect maintained a political presence at the doorstep, and sometimes within India, down to the 1st century CE with the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom and the Indo-Greek Kingdoms, with many noticeable influences on the arts of the Maurya Empire especially. Hellenistic influence on Indian art was also felt for several more centuries during the period of Greco-Buddhist art.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sanchi Stupa No. 2</span> Stupa in Madhya Pradesh, India

The Stupa No. 2 at Sanchi, also called Sanchi II, is one of the oldest existing Buddhist stupas in India, and part of the Buddhist complex of Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh. It is of particular interest since it has the earliest known important displays of decorative reliefs in India, probably anterior to the reliefs at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, or the reliefs of Bharhut. It displays what has been called "the oldest extensive stupa decoration in existence". Stupa II at Sanchi is therefore considered as the birthplace of Jataka illustrations.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bairat Temple</span> Buddhist site near Bairat, Rajasthan, India

Bairat Temple is a freestanding Buddhist temple, a Chaityagriha, located about a mile southwest of the city Viratnagar, Rajasthan, India, on a hill locally called "Bijak-ki-Pahari". The temple is of a circular type, formed of a central stupa surrounded by a circular colonnade and an enclosing wall. It was built during the time of Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, and near it were found two of Ashoka's Minor Rock Edicts, the Bairat and the Calcutta-Bairat Minor Rock Edicts. It is the earliest circular Buddhist shrine and therefore, Bairat temple is an important marker of the architecture of India.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jivakarama vihara</span>

The Jivakarama vihara, also Jivaka Amravana vihara, Jivakamravana, Jivakamrabana or Jivakavanarama, is an ancient Buddhist monastery, or vihara, established at the time of the Buddha.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Buddhist caves in India</span> Various man-made, often monk-made Buddhist caves throughout India

The Buddhist caves in India. Maharashtra state Aurangabad Dist. Ellora caves form an important part of Indian rock-cut architecture, and are among the most prolific examples of rock-cut architecture around the world. There are more than 1,500 known rock cut structures in India, out of which about 1000 were made by Buddhists, 300 by Hindus, and 200 by Jains. Many of these structures contain works of art of global importance, and many later caves from the Mahayana period are adorned with exquisite stone carvings. These ancient and medieval structures represent significant achievements of structural engineering and craftsmanship.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ancient Indian architecture</span> Architecture of India from the Bronze Age to the 9th century CE

Ancient Indian architecture ranges from the Indian Bronze Age to around 800 CE. By this endpoint Buddhism in India had greatly declined, and Hinduism was predominant, and religious and secular building styles had taken on forms, with great regional variation, which they largely retain even after some forceful changes brought about by the arrival of first Islam, and then Europeans.


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Further reading