Most prominent stupas in India
Sanchi Stupa, Madhya Pradesh
One of the prominent heritage sites in India that is located approximately 45km from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, the Sanchi Stupa is regarded as the oldest stone structure in India. The construction work of this massive structure was commissioned by king Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BC and was supervised by his wife.
The Sanchi Stupa was built as a simple hemispherical stone structure with a ‘chatra’ signifying to honor and shelter the relics of Buddha. Later, four decorated gateways were added surrounding the stupa.
The complex holds the famous sandstone pillar with having Ashokan inscription and an inscription in the ornamental Sankha Lipi from the Gupta period.
Further, several inscriptions and carved structures portray the Satavahana period and diverse studies conclude that the Sanchi Stupa was vandalized during the Sunga period and was rebuilt during the same era.
Dhamekh Stupa, Uttar Pradesh
One of the most monumental and gigantic structures in Sarnath, roughly 13 kilometers away from Varanasi, the Dhamekh Stupa is a splendid example of Buddhist architecture with sculpted figures of blossoms, humans, and birds and inscriptions in Brahmi script.
Emperor Ashoka commissioned it in 249 BCE. However, it was completed much later during the Gupta rule in 500 CE.
The solid cylinder of bricks and stone structure with a diameter of 28m and height of 43.6m represents the spot of a deer park where Lord Buddha gave the first sermon.
Amaravati Stupa, Andhra Pradesh
Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh and the surrounding region between Krishna and Godavari rivers reflects an extensive exhibition of ancient Indian art and architecture.
The Amarāvati Stupa, is at the village of Amaravathi, Palnadu district, Andhra Pradesh. It was built in phases between the 3rd BCE and about 250 CE.
Amravati Stupa illustrates Lord Buddha in a human form. It has 95ft high platforms, extending in the four cardinal directions, along with a magnificent circular dome.
The Amaravati Stupa has “pradakshina patha” enclosed within a vedika on which many narrative stories from the life of Buddha and bodhisattva dominate just like Sanchi Stupa, however its structural anatomy is more complex than Sanchi. The material used in Amravati stupas is a distinctive white marble.
Other magnificent stupas in India
Kesaria Stupa, Bihar
The stupa is said to be the tallest and the largest Buddhist stupa in the world.
It is located in Kesariya or Kesaria, at a distance of 110km from Patna, in the East Champaran district of Bihar.
It has a circumference of almost 400ft and stands at a height of about 104ft.
The original Kesaria stupa probably dates to the time of Ashoka (circa 250 BCE), as the remains of a capital of a Pillar of Ashoka were discovered there. The current stupa dates to the Gupta Dynasty between 200 AD and 750 AD. The stupa mound may even have been inaugurated during the Buddha's time, as it corresponds in many respects to the description of the stupa erected by the Licchavis of Vaishali to house the alms bowl the Buddha has given them.
Shanti Stupa at Dhauligiri
Shanti Stupa of Dhauligiri is also known as the Peace Pagoda. Dhauligiri lies at a distance of 7Km from Bhubaneswar. Since King Ashoka adopted the path of peace and tranquility and resorted to Buddhism, he laid the foundation of Dhauligiri Shanti Stupa at a place that is known for the end of the Kalinga War.
The Dhauli Shanti Stupa has four monumental idols of Lord Buddha in various postures along with episodes from Gautam Buddha's life engraved on stone slabs. Just behind the Stupa stands a Shiva temple. Other major attractions of Dhauli Hills are the various rock edicts, which are a living testimony of emperor Ashoka’s change of heart.
Chaukhandi Stupa, Sarnath
Another marvelous high earthen mound covered with a brickwork edifice belonging from the Gupta period, the Chaukhandi Stupa was originally built as a terraced temple, signifying the meeting of Lord Buddha and his first disciples on their journey from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath.
Ramabhar Stupa in Kushinagar
Ramabhar Stupa, Kushinagar is the place where Lord Buddha was cremated and he attained salvation or Mahaparnirvana. According to the facts, Lord Buddha had many discourses in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh. Tourists from all over visit the Ramabhar Stupa, Kushinagar which has carefully treasured the remnants of history.
Ramabhar Stupa, Kushinagar is more than 50ft high and stands on a high mound that faces the road. This road joins Kushinagar with Deoria. From the ancient Buddhist texts one gets to know that the Ramabhar Stupa, Kushinagar has been referred to as the Mukut-Bandhan Vihar.