What Is a Stupa?
Learn the meaning behind these famous Buddhist monuments.
Stupa in Sarnath, India, where the Buddha preached his first sermon. Photo by Maureen Barlin.
Stupas are one of the most recognizable forms of Buddhist architecture, dotting the landscape in all Buddhist countries. Like Buddhist temples, their style differs from culture to culture, but the basic structure remains the same.
At its simplest, a stupa is a dirt burial mound faced with stone, often containing relics or religious objects and used as a place of meditation. The Great Stupa in Sanchi, India, is the earliest known stupa, dating back to the fourth century BCE. The largest stupa in the world is Borobudur in Indonesia. …more