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What “Stupa” means?

The word Stupais derived from Sanskrit word “stup” meaning“to collect.” The Prakrit word for it is Thoopa. The literal meaning of Stupa is a mound. Since, these are constructed on place of pyre or Chita, these are also called Chaitya; like Karle Chaitya.The description of Stupa is first found in Rigveda but its construction came into vogue in times of Asoka,who is credited of making 84 thousand stupas in Buddhist traditions.

Construction of Stupas:-

While there are several kinds of stupas, round and tall, big and small, these have certain common features. Generally, there is a small box placed at the center or heart of stupa,which may contain relics (teeth, bones or ashes) of Buddha or some enlightened Buddhist Monks, or the things they used as well as precious stones or coins.

The box containing remains or better known as relic casket,was first covered and later a layer of brick or mud was added on the top. Dome like structure was covered with stone slabs. Often a path known as Pradakshina Path was laid around the stupa the same way, as it was constructed in other religious structures or temples now and then. Devotees walked around the path, the practice which is still present in Hindu and Buddhist religions.Later the construction was made more elaborate and with the patronage of powerful rulers to Buddhism the stupas came to be decorated with elaborate sculptures and paintings of Buddha’s life.

Way to Dhamekh Stupa:-

Visitors can hire auto-rikshaw or take transport corporation buses operating from Varanasi City. Generally fares are Rs.40-50. Another way is by taking a local train from Varanasi Cantt to Sarnath Railway Station and walking thereafter, hardly one kilometer.

If, you want an private tour, then best way is to hire taxi from Varanasi. Click for cost details

Dhamekh:-

In ancient times Benaras was famous for its cotton sarees but silk weaving was started in 14th century during Mughal Period. Historians claim that it was after Gujarat famine in 1603 when Gujarati silk weavers shifted to Varanasi and silk weaving gained prominence. Colourful silk threads are used along with the golden/silver threads in designs.

Like rest of archeological sites of India Dhamekh Stupa is closed on every Monday. Entry can be accessed by taking an entry ticket at entry ticket counter.

Dhamekh Stupa is the erected monument atSarnath, nearly 40kms from Varanasi. It is one of the most prominent Buddhist structures and pilgrimage center in India.Dating back to 500 AD,Stupa is the largest in the region.”Of the Sarnath Stupa, the final form of which dates from the Gupta Period, only the inner core remains. Near the site stands an Asoka pillar with an edict engraved on it which reads the message of Asoka the Great to his DhammaMahamattas for propagating Dhamma.Asoka’s Dhamma shouldn’t be misunderstood with dharma or religion in present context but it was a greater message for good deeds, a welfare state and greater virtues of human life.At the top of pillar is Lion Capitolwhich has four lions engraved and is National Emblem of India. The Capitol represents an exquisite example of Mauryan Sculpture with no influence of foreign styles of sculpture.It had a wheel over lionswhich gave a message of “Victory of Dhamma orLaw over Power.” An octagonal tower built by Emperor Akbar caps the Stupa. The animals like lions,bulls and elephants and the wheel has several legendary stories in Pali as well as Hindu scriptures. All give a common message of victory of “virtue over vice.”

Read More : Buddhism in India

The Rishipattana:-

The Dhamekh Stupa represents the Deer Park (Rishipattana) described in Buddhist Literature. This park marks the spot where Lord Buddha proclaimed his faith and sermonized five disciples and the event came to be known as “DharmachakraPravartana” or “the turning of the Wheel of Law.” It is here herevealed his “Eightfold Path” of right observation, right determination, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right exercise, right memory and right meditation.

The Stupa is 128 feet high and 93 feet wide, built of stone and brick. The stone facing the lower part is adornedwith delicate floral carvings in style of Gupta Architecture.Stories ofJatakasare carved on railings and walls.Chaukhandi Stupa belongs to the Gupta Period.

The stupa was enlarged on six occasions.Several restoration works has been done with the help of Japan and Archeological Survey of India. The wall has engraved figures of humans and birds, as well as inscriptions in the Brahmi script. Chinese travellerFa-Xien tells of four stupas and five viharasor monasteries, which are extinct now.The Stupa is a masterpiece of the art known to the world at that time.

Near the stupa are ancient Hindu Temples of Gupta Period. One can buy copies of ancient religious scriptures and Jatakastories besides their own likes.

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