Chaukhandi Stupa

The Chaukhandi Stupa in Sarnath was built during the Gupta period. The Guptas were orthodox Hindus, but allowed and encouraged the Buddhists to practise their religion. The Chaukhandi Stupa is of great cultural and religious significance, and part of India’s architectural heritage. It symbolises India’s great religious diversity. 

Art and culture is an important part of the IAS syllabus, especially for the UPSC Mains phase of the examination. The architectural pieces of art created in the ancient Indian period contribute to the heritage of the country. 

Apart from the Chaukhandi Stupa, the Lion Capital of India, Sanchi Stupa is also important for civil service aspirants. It too is located in Sarnath and its construction was commissioned by Emperor Ashoka. Read about this Mauryan sculpture at the linked article.

Chaukhandi Stupa [UPSC Notes]:-Download PDF Here

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Chaukhandi Stupa Sarnath History

The Chaukhandi Stupa has an awe-inspiring history. It was constructed in the 5th century AD and is revered by us Indians, as well as by avid tourists from across the globe. The stupa was constructed to commemorate the reunion of Lord Buddha with his five companions, known as the Panchvargiya Bhikshus. 

This monument is, therefore, a symbol of Buddhist sovereignty in Sarnath. The history and conception of the monument are vital for the UPSC preparation. One of the key significances of this stupa is its location in Sarnath, as it is perceived to be the place of Buddha’s reunion. The lore states that the five companions of Lord Buddha had previously abandoned him at Rajgir only to meet him at this spot. This historical and religious context makes this monument a noteworthy site to visit. 

Chaukhandi Stupa and the Mughals

The UPSC syllabus is inclusive of in-depth knowledge about historical monuments like this. So, it is vital to learn about the relationship between the Mughal rulers in India and this stupa. Even though the construction of the stupa is believed to have taken place during the Gupta period in the 5th century AD, the actual build of the monument is attributed to Govardhan. 

Govardhan was the son of Raja Todar Mal, who was a Finance Minister for the Mughals. Govardhan built this stupa to commemorate the visit of the powerful Mughal ruler, Humayun. Although Akbar, the great Mughal ruler and son of Humayun, had a large role in constructing this monument, the Chaukhandi Stupa in its present shape and appearance was facilitated by Govardhan. Therefore, this monument is a gateway to the Buddhist city of Sarnath and has a rich tie in Mughal history. 

Additional Chaukhandi Stupa UPSC Information: Shape, Features and a lot more!

One of the unique features of the Chaukhandi Stupa is its massive rectangular shape atop a terraced plinth. This plinth is rectangular, too, while the actual tower itself is octagonal. This architectural pattern is highly uncommon for the period in which it is believed to have been built. 

Similarly, the mystery surrounding the visual style of the stupa is also quite intriguing. The stupas of Buddhist affiliation are generally dome-shaped, such as the famous Sanchi Stupa. However, this stupa is distinctly octagonal in shape, making it appear unique for a Buddhist stupa. 

Old architectural structures like the Chaukhandi Stupa usually have mysteries and lores surrounding them. This makes them an ideal subject for historical research, and an important topic for those doing their IAS preparations. 

The Chaukhandi Stupa was declared a monument of national vitality and heritage by the Archaeological Survey of India in 2019, and is currently being preserved by the ASI. It is a place of interest not only to Buddhists across the globe, but also to tourists belonging to different cultures and religions.

Chaukhandi Stupa [UPSC Notes]:-Download PDF Here

Historical heritage is an important topic for the UPSC exam. So, read about this stupa and for further reading, refer to similar articles available on our website. 

Other Related Links
Difference Between Art and Culture Art & Culture Questions in UPSC Mains GS 1
List of Important Historical Monuments in India  List of Ramsar Sites in India
Difference between History and Archaeology  UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India

Frequently Asked Questions on Chaukhandi Stupa

Q 1. What makes Chaukhandi Stupa an interesting place to visit?

Ans. Tourists and devotees alike visit this shrine of Buddha to pray and obtain blessings. It is observed that tourists pray Buddham Sharnam Gacchami to make their journeys successful and joyful. The garden adjacent to the stupa is where people gather to offer their prayers. The place is a national treasure.

Q 2. What is the religious significance of the Chaukhandi Stupa?

Ans. The religious importance of the stupa is attributed to its history and the relic of Buddha reuniting with his five companions in Sarnath. Also, the stupa was built in India during a period when the rulers were not followers of Buddhism. Again, the stupa has a strong connection with the Mughals as well. Even they were not Buddhists. Unique structural features, rich history, footfalls of devotees, all make the stupa a place of religious significance.

Q 3. Who were the five companions of Buddha?

Ans. The five companions of Buddha were Kondanna, Assaji, Bhaddiya, Vappa and Mahanama. They were all ascetics and known as the Panchvargiya Bhikshus.

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