Stupa (Urdu: دھرمراجیکہ اسٹوپ),
also referred to as the Great
Stupa of Taxila, is a
near Taxila, Pakistan. It dates from the 2nd century CE, and was
built to house small bone fragments of the Buddha. The stupa,
along with the large monastic complex that later developed around it,
forms part of the Ruins of
Taxila - which were inscribed as a UNESCO
World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site in 1980.
2.1 Core stupa
2.2 Peripheral stupas
3.1 Bone fragments of the Buddha
3.2 Reliquary vessels
7 See also
It has been claimed that that
Stupa was built over the
remains of an ever older stupa that had been built by the Mauryan
Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, though other
archeologists alternatively suggest that this is unlikely.
Indo-Greek coins found at the site date from the 2nd century BCE,
suggesting earliest possible establishment of a religious monument at
Small stupas that predate the main stupa are found throughout the
Dharmarajika site, and surrounded an earlier core stupa in an
irregular layout. It is known that the earlier core stupa contained
a pathway for circumabulation that was made of plaster, and decorated
with shell bangles in geometric patterns. The earlier stupa likely
had four gates in axial directions.
The current stupa was believed to have been established in the 2nd
century CE during the
Kushan era in order to house relics of the
Buddha, which may have been sourced from earlier monuments, and
originally buried at the site around 78 CE.
Buddhist texts mention
that frankincense was used during religious services at Dharmarajika,
while the complex was paved with colourful glass tiles.
The site came under control of Persian
Sassanid rule, and suffered a
period of stagnation. Large-scale developments took place during
Kidarite era which added numerous monasteries and
stupas to the site.
Plan of the
The site was devastated by the White Huns in the 5th century CE, and
then abandoned. Subsequent rulers, such as the Hun king Mihirakula,
persecuted the region's Buddhists. Under his reign, over a thousand
Buddhist monasteries throughout Gandhara are said to have been
destroyed. The White Huns destroyed not only Taxilan sites, but
also devastated nearby Peshawar.
The stupa was excavated by Sir John Marshall in 1913. The stupa had
been looted several times prior to Marshall's discovery, and was badly
damaged. Marshall noted that a large trench, requiring tremendous
effort, was built at some point in the past in order to loot the
stupa's precious relics. By 1934, enough of the site had been
uncovered that the site's scale could be appreciated. Human
skeletons were discovered in the open area immediately south of the
stupa, and may be the remains of monks who were killed during the
invasion of the White Huns.
The location of the stupa and its monastic community about 1 kilometre
Sirkap aligns with ancient Gandharan beliefs that the
Buddha recommended monasteries should be neither "too far" nor "too
close" to adjacent towns. Three distinctive types of masonry in the
buildings around the main stupa suggest the contributions of different
periods to the building activity.
The passageway between the main stupa and several smaller stupas was
used for the practice of pradakshina.
Stupa is the largest of all stupas in the Taxila
region, Surrounding the main mound is a passageway for
pradakshina — the ancient practice of walking around a holy
The stupa's large anda, or hemispherical mound, is damaged − though
the plinth of the mound, known as the medhi, is still largely
intact. The anda mound was made of ashlar stone. The stupa's
harmika, or fence like structure built atop the anda mound, has been
The stupa's southern gateway was initially considered the most
important, though the construction of four smaller stupas (termed G7,
G8, S7, Q1) to the west of the stupa indicate that this then likely
became the preferred entrance for those performing circambulation.
Later constructions around the "Eastern Avenue" then shifted the
preferred route for circambulation to the eastern side of the
Before entering the main sacred areas, visitors to the shrine from
Sirkap would pass through a large building, now termed building H,
that would openly display relics. Visitors likely venerated the
relics at building H before entering the main stupa area.
Chambers containing religious imagery were built along the "Northern
The stupa was surrounded by a circle of smaller stupas which were
built approximately 200 years after the stupa's construction, and
were likely constructed together as part of a project funded by a
Additional stupas were built further along the northern portion of the
site by various patrons, and date from the
These stupas form a "Northern Avenue," that had several small shrines
with devotional images, rendering the Northern Avenue as a
processional corridor. Devotional images were likely relegated to
the periphery of the complex due to religious conservatives, who were
hesitant to fully embrace the new practice of using imagery in
Unlike constructions at Sanchi, stupas around the
were built by individual donors, rather than as part of a communal
Ruins of several monasteries are located around the main stupa.
Early monastic cells near the stupa were built as a row of rooms, with
a verandah, The verandah style was later dropped in favour of
monastic living quarters surrounding quadrangles that were built
immediately north, northeast, and east of the stupa approximately 300
years after the stupa's construction.
The northern monastery consisted of two courtyards that were each
built around a large stupa. The smaller eastern courtyard is
believed to have housed 13 monks.
Monastery G, located immediately west of the stupa has at least 50
monastic cells, a stupa, and was likely multistoried. Monastery M
in the extreme northwest section of the site, and contained its own
stupa in a small courtyard. Monastery M is connected to a long
residential monastery, oriented in a roughly north-south direction.
At the southern edge of this monastery are the remains of two stupas,
now termed E1 and E2. E1 was built in a pre-existing cell, while E2
was a more elaborated stupa that contained a small passageway for
circambulation. Neither stupa was likely open to the public.
Bone fragments of the Buddha
Statuette from the
Dharmarajika site, now displayed at the Guimet
Museum in Paris.
The site is famous for its bone relics – thought to be those of
the Buddha, Much of the stupa's precious relics had been looted by
the time it was discovered by Sir John Marshall. A silver casket
containing a silver inscription was recovered from the stupa's chapel
after discovery, The inscription is written in the ancient
Kharosthi script that was once common throughout Gandhara, The
inscription states that Urusaka of Noacha placed bone relics of the
Buddha in his chapel at
Dharmarajika in 78 CE.
In 2016, 2 bone relics from the
Stupa were sent to Sri
Lanka for one month. The relics were displayed at important shrines in
Polonnaruwa, Colombo, Kandy, and Anuradhapura, and attracted 9.3
18 reliquary vessels were also recovered from smaller stupas
Stupa that yielded a wide array of
relics, including one that encased a cylindrical piece of gold.
Other reliquaries yielded gold jewelry and precious jewels, while
others contained items from distant locations such as lapis lazuli
from Afghanistan, pearls, and shells − reflecting the large trade
networks operating from Taxila. Several coins of the Indo-Greek
Zoilos II were found under the foundation of such a 1st-century
Dharmarajika comes from Dharmaraja, a name given to Buddha
who was the true Dharma Raja (Lord of Law), according to Marshall. It
is also believed that ‘Dharmarajika’ is derived from the word
‘Dharmaraja’, a title used by Mauryan emperor Ashoka. The stupa is
also popularly known as Chir Tope, or "Scarred hill".
Stupa lies about 3 kilometers east of the Taxila
Museum, along the PMO Colony Road, northeast of
Taxila Cantonment. The
stupa was located near the ancient city of Sirkap, which also forms
part of the Ruins of Taxila.
Coins of the
Zoilos II were found under a peripheral
Sculptures from the
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dharmarajika, Taxila.
Mankiala stupa -commemorates the spot, where according to the Jataka
tales, an incarnation of the
Buddha sacrificed himself to feed seven
hungry tiger cubs
^ a b c "Dharmarajika: The Great
Stupa of Taxila". GoUNESCO. UNESCO. 1
September 2016. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
^ a b c d e f Scarre, Geoffrey; Coningham, Robin (2013). Appropriating
the Past: Philosophical Perspectives on the Practice of Archaeology.
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521196062. Retrieved 22 June
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Higham, Charles (2014). Encyclopedia of
Ancient Asian Civilizations. Infobase Publishing.
^ "Taxila". UNESCO. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Behrendt, Kurt A.
(2004). Handbuch der Orientalistik. BRILL.
^ The Silk Road in World History. Oxford University Press. 2010.
ISBN 9780195338102. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
^ a b c d e Le, Huu Phuoc (2010).
^ a b Insoll, Timothy (2002). Archaeology and World Religion.
Routledge. ISBN 9781134597987. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
^ M. S. Moray (1985). History of Buddhism in Gujarāt. Saraswati
Pustak Bhandar. p. 46.
Buddha relics returns to
Pakistan after month long
exposition in Sri Lanka".
Colombo Page. 27 June 2016. Retrieved 23
^ Marshall, "Excavations at Taxila", "The only minor antiquities of
interest found in this building were twenty-five debased silver coins
of the Greek king Zoilus II, which were brought to light beneath the
foundations of the earliest chapel", p248
"Taxila" Sir John Marshall
Archaeological sites of Taxila
List of cultural heritage sites in Punjab, Pakistan
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Hakimon ka Maqbara
House of Abdus Salam, Jhang
Islamic Summit Minar
Shrine of Baha'al-Halim
Shrine of Jalaluddin Bukhari
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Shrine of Shah Jamal
Tomb of Ali Mardan Khan
Tomb of Anarkali
Tomb of Bibi Jawindi
Tomb of Dai Anga
Tomb of Jahangir
Tomb of Jani Khan
Shrine of Khalid Walid
Tomb of Lala Rukh
Tomb of Muhammad Iqbal
Tomb of Nadira Begum
Tomb of Nur Jahan
Tomb of Shah Rukn-e-Alam
Lahore High Court
Lahore High Court building
National College of Arts
Dai Anga Mosque
Data Durbar Complex
Gurdwara Janam Asthan
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Sacred Heart Cathedral
Saleh Kamboh Mosque
St. John's Church
Multan Eid Gah Mosque
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Omar Hayat Mahal