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The origin of the stupa is in India. There used to be a large pile of stones gathered over the graves of prominent rulers or persons. Later, the ashes of the deceased were collected in a special bin, which was placed inside the stupa for storage. This was done after the death of the Buddha. First, the ash was collected in one box, after which the ash was divided into eight parts, and all were sent, according to the Buddha's own wishes, to eight different cities, where a special building had been built for them. Two more stupas were built: one to burn the Buddha's body, the other to preserve the original urn.

The picture still shows the original shape of the tombstone, decorated only with an "umbrella".

During the reign of King Asoka  the stupa form in use, which has later been given an additional terrace for the ceremonial tour of the stupa

100-200 AD.  development of stupas

The development of stupas since the 5th century shows that they are evolving towards the East Asian pagoda form

The origin of the form of the stupa is told by a Buddhist legend: "The Buddha folded his cloak and lowered it to the ground to depict the foundation, slid his begging bowl upside down over the cloak to depict the relic chamber, and placed his parasol over them to depict the rising tower."

Buddhism was born as a "monk religion." Religion had no common rituals but was practiced privately. For this reason, only monasteries needed common meeting rooms. All the places associated with the life of the Buddha became pilgrimages. The holiest stupas rose to these places.

The most important places in his life The Buddha himself revealed to his disciples:

Lumbini :

Birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama. Here, King Asoka made a pilgrimage in the 20th century BC after converting to Buddhism and paying for the construction of the stupa. Asoka also erected the pillar, but the lightning cut it. The fallen pillar was found in the 19th century  and is now in the museum. The drawing in Asoka's time on the column proved this to be the birthplace of the Buddha. The present temple is from a later time.

















Photo: Niraj Bhusal 

Bodh Gaya

Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment  under a boddy tree on the banks of the river Nairanja. This place today is awesome  Mahabodhi Temple. On top of the temple is a stupa that contains  the relics of the buddha. Rituals can be practiced in the temple.

The temple is known to have existed since at least 600 AD, when it was visited by a Chinese pilgrim who wrote notes about his journey. The holiest place in the temple is the seat of enlightenment where Siddharthan is said to be enlightened.

During British rule in India the building was abandoned and in poor condition, but the British  renovated the buildings and the surrounding park to its current condition.

Inside the temple hall is a huge Buddha statue  in a sitting position.


 Photo: CC BY-SA

Dhamekh’s stupa is in a gazelle park where the Buddha gave his first sermon after his enlightenment. From this it is considered that the wheel of doctrine, the dharma, has set in motion.

Picture:  CC BY-SA 2.5


Kushinagara became a holy city because it remained the last place in the Buddha’s life: he died there and moved to parinirvana. The Ramabhar Stupa was built on the site where the body of the Buddha was burned.

Sources: Michael Jordan: Oriental Wisdom p.98101 Ottawa 2000

Arild Hvidtfeldt: A Part of Ottawa's Great World History The Great Religions p.140-142 Ottawa 1983

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