Stupas are religious monuments and the most iconic forms of Buddhist architecture. Inspired by India’s ancient burial mounds, the first Buddhist stupas were originally created to house Buddha’s remains. Today, they are used for worship and to commemorate different aspects of Buddha’s legacy. Some contain Buddha’s possessions or those of his disciples. Others mark a significant event in Buddha’s life. Some stupas represent his teachings while others are built as a form of devotion.
Stupas are often dome-shaped and include several components of Buddhist philosophy as part of their design. Practitioners visit stupas for a variety of reasons. One may seek good blessings, make an offering, or pray for someone in need. When visiting a stupa, it is custom to walk around its base clockwise as a form of meditation.