Stupas are Buddhist shrines and mausoleums where ascetics have been buried in a seated position, known as chaitya.
Dhamek Stupa was built long ago, around 500 CE, reportedly to replace an earlier structure that was built by the great Mauryan king Ashoka (who had converted to Buddhism)in 249 BCE.
It was built to commemorate Gautama Buddha's (the founder of Buddhism) activities in this region. The building of such stupas was started by King Ashoka to enshrine some relics of Gautama Buddha.
The Dhamek Stupa is said to mark the spot where Gautama Buddha gave the first sermon after getting enlightened towards the path of what came to be known as Buddhism, to his first five disciples.
Dhamekh stupa is a massive stone structure in the shape of a solid cylinder of bricks and stone of a height of 43.6 meters and diameter of 28 meters.
The stone walls of the building are chiselled and have pretty floral carvings from the Gupta period. It also has some exquisitely carved figures of humans and birds, as well as inscriptions in the Brāhmī script (an ancient script that originated in south Asia).
An Ashoka pillar (one of the many monolithic columns, inscribed with edicts, which were erected in different places throughout India, by Emperor Ashoka) also stands near the Stupa.
Dhamek Stupa at Sarnath is located about 13 km away near the popular city of Varanasi in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Varanasi can be reached by air, road or train, and from here, visitors can hire an autorickshaw or cab to reach Dhamek Stupa, which is around 11 km (6.8 miles) away, in around 35 mins.
Dhamekh Stupa is open to visitors between 7 AM and 5 PM every day. The entry fee applicable to visit the stupa is INR 5 per head for Indian citizens and INR100 per head for foreigners.