One of the important Buddhist attraction in Sarnath is Chaukhandi Stupa. It is located about 13Kms from Varanasi. Stupas serve as shrine for relic of the Buddha and also are descendents of burial mounds.
It is said that Chaukhandi Stupa was originally built as a terraced temple during the Gupta period, between the 4th and 6th Century. This was erected to mark the place where Lord Buddha and his first disciples met traveling from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath.
The octagonal tower on the top of the ancient stupa was added during the medieval period. By the order of the Mughal emperor Akbar, Govardhan, the son of Raja Todarmal, the finance secretary in Akbar’s court, built this octagonal tower on top of the stupa in 1588.
The Persian inscription over one of the doorways of the stupa reads” As Humayun, king of the Seven Climes, now residing in paradise, deigned to come and sit here one day, thereby increasing the splendour of the sun, so Akbar, his son and humble servant, resolved to built on this spot a lofty tower reaching to the blue sky”.
Chaukhandi Stupa is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, which looks after its upkeep. The Chaukhandi Stupa is topped by an octagonal tower and has a high earthen mound covered with brickwork.
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Photographer: Felice Beato and Henry Hering
Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.