Buddhism Part-3 Insights



Buddhist Architecture

Cave Architecture

  • Viharas are dwelling places used by wandering monks during the rainy season which later evolved into centres of learning.
  • Chaityas are shrines, sanctuaries, temples or prayer halls which have a giant hall with high vaulted roof, with a lot of sculpture work on the pillars and the entrance.


  • Stupa refers to a heap or a mound which were commonly used as burial mounds in India.
  • The art of stupas reached its pinnacle during the era of Ashoka and during his reign, around 84000 stupas were built.
  • According to Buddhist tradition, nine stupas were originally built following Buddha’s death, eight contained relics and one containing the vessel in which the relics were first put.
  • These stupas were built at Rajagriha, Vaishali, Kapilvastu, Allakapa, Ramagrama, Vethadipa, Pava, Kushinagar, and Pippalvina.

Features of Stupas

  • The stupa’s core was composed of unburnt bricks, with a burnt brick outer face covered in a thick coating of plaster.
  • The stupa was capped by a wooden railing that encircled a pradakshina patha (circumambulatory path).
  • Which is a magnificent stupa with a circumambulatory route and a circular mound.
  • Gateways were added in addition to the circumambulatory circuit.
  • With the elaborations in stupa design, architects and sculptors had plenty of room to plan elaborations and carve out images.
  • Wooden sculptures were used to embellish the medhi and toran. As a form of worship, devotees walk around the pradakshina patha, or open ambulatory pathway.
  • Sculptures were largely utilized to decorate stupas, the torana, and the medhi, as well as a form of religious expression.
  • The three chhatra on the stupas symbolize the Buddhist triratnas: Buddha (the enlightened), Dhamma (doctrine), and Sangh (community).
  • Gateways were added in addition to the circumambulatory circuit. With the elaborations in stupa design, architects and sculptors had plenty of room to plan elaborations and carve out images.

Some Important stupas

Sanchi stupa Madhya Pradesh
  • It was constructed in the 3rd century BCE by Ashoka.
  • Bricks were used to construct the original construction. It was afterward covered with stone, vedica, and torana (gateway).
  • The stupa has four entrances, with the southern one being the first to be completed. Others were added subsequently. The gateways are ornately carved and ornamented with statues.
  • Since 1989, Sanchi Stupa has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Dhamek stupa.

Uttar Pradesh
  • Dhamek Stupa is a huge stupa in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh,
  • It was built in 500 CE to replace an earlier structure, together with numerous other monuments, commissioned by Ashoka in 249 BCE to commemorate the Buddha’s activities in this region.
  • The Dhamek Stupa is supposed to be built on the site of Rishipattana, where after obtaining enlightenment, Buddha gave his first sermon to his first five Brahmin students, “revealing his Eightfold Path leading to nirvana.”
Amaravati stupa Andhra Pradesh
  • The Amravati Stupa, also known as the Great Stupa of Amravati, is a damaged Buddhist monument.
  • It was probably built in phases between the third century BCE and about 250 CE.
  • The Archaeological Survey of India is in charge of safeguarding the site.
  • The site’s notable sculptures are now housed at a number of museums in India and overseas, many of which are severely damaged.
Bharhut Stupa Madhya Pradesh
  • The Sungas adapted the Bharhut stupa, which was originally erected by Asoka.
  • Unlike the Mauryas’ imperial art, the reliefs and figures in Bharhut stupa were provided by laypeople, monks, and nuns, according to inscriptions on the railings.
  • As a result, it is considered one of the earliest instances of Maurya’s popular art.
Nagarjunakonda Andhra Pradesh
  • Nagarjunakonda is an ancient town that is now an island at Nagarjuna Sagar, west of the Amaravati Stupa, another notable historic landmark.
  • Nagarjunakonda is home to the remnants of various Mahayana Buddhist and Hindu sanctuaries.
  • It is one of India’s most important Buddhist sites, but it is currently nearly fully submerged beneath the Nagarjunasagar Dam.
Piprahwa Uttar Pradesh
  • Piprahwa is most known for its archaeological site and excavations, which imply that it was the site of the Buddha’s ashes being handed to his own Sakya clan.
  • The site contains a massive stupa, as well as the ruins of many monasteries and a museum.
  • At the nearby Ganwaria mound, ancient residential complexes and temples were discovered.
Soneri stupa Madhyapradesh
  • Sonari is the ancient monastic complex of Buddhist stupas’ archaeological site.
  • Sonari, like Sanchi, is a Buddhist stupa complex with two major and five minor stupas.
  • Alexander Cunningham uncovered two boxes carrying relics while excavating the stupas around 1850.