Stupas are large hemispherical domes, containing a central chamber, in which the relics of the Buddha were placed. The Great Stupa is topped by a triple “parasol” set within a square railing or harmika. A third of the way up from its base, a raised terrace, enclosed by a fence, is meant for ritual circumambulation of the monument. A second, stone-paved procession-path at ground-level is enclosed by an encircling stone balustrade. This path is accessed from the cardinal directions through four exquisitely carved gateways.
Emperor Asoka (273-236 B.C.) built Stupas in Buddha’s honour at many places in India. Stupas at Sanchi are the most magnificent structures of ancient India. UNESCO has included them as one of the heritage sites of the world. Sanchi stupas trace the development of the Buddhist architecture and sculpture at the same location beginning from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D.
The stupa brings before us the grandeur of the spirit. Its size and magnificence fill us with awe and transport us away from the turmoil and confusion of the mundane world.