The Ashoka Pillar in Lumbini is one of the 3rd Century stone pillars built under the reign of Emperor Ashoka. It was erected as a mark of respect by Ashoka after he visited Lord Buddha's place of birth and decided to accept Buddhism. These facts make the pillar a significantly important attraction in the country. It bears the oldest inscription compared to the rest of the Ashoka Pillars, thus marking that it was the first ever such structure built. The pillar is located inside the serene Maya Devi Temple complex and is quite a stimulating structure to visit because of its interesting and motivating history.
Ashoka belonged to the Mauryan Dynasty and ruled the Indian Subcontinent between 269 and 232 BC. He was infamous for being a dictator after he inherited the crown. When he fought the Kalinga War during his reign, over a hundred thousand people were killed. The carnage was on such a large scale that Ashoka couldn't take it and felt guilty for his acts. Around this time he was introduced to the teachings of Lord Buddha. Further on, he accepted Buddhism and promoted it in his capacity.
The Ashoka Pillars located at Lumbini and several other locations in the Indian subcontinent are important monuments that signify the importance of Buddhism during the period. There are twenty known pillars with ancient engravings based on the principles of Buddhism. Each pillar was designed to be about 50 feet tall with a capital animal sculpted on the top. These are made of stone, weighed about 50 tons each and bear inscriptions about Dhamma & its virtues, Emperor Ashoka's belief in protecting his people and obligations of public service. Most of the pillars have been destroyed due to weathering. However, after the rediscovery, they have been maintained as historically important monuments.
The Ashoka Pillar in Lumbini was installed as a sign of respect for Gautama Buddha after Emperor Ashoka converted to Buddhism. The pillar was lost for centuries after it was established as the regions and the people evolved. It was only in the later half of the 19th century that it was rediscovered by Khadga Shumsher Rana, the then Governor of Palpa. What was found then was a ruined stone pillar with only 3 feet of it remaining intact in Rummindei, which was later known as Lumbini. The pillar has been relocated to the Maya Devi Temple complex.
The sandstone pillar bears no capital animal as it has been broken down over the years. Researchers reported it to be a horse, the ruins of which were found lying near the structure when it was discovered. The top now has a disc that protects the remaining ancient pillar. Experts believe the pillar was created using the technique of erecting an obelisk and is quite a marvel considering the limited resources and technology available during the time. The interesting saga behind the monument and its spiritual significance make the Ashokan Pillar a must-visit site for history, religious and architectural enthusiasts.
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