Stupas are basically funeral mounds - low circular mounds ringed by boulders. It was mostly a Buddhist art, though Jains also seemed to have built stupas.
Emperor Ashoka had built a great number of stupas. A stupa was to enshrine body relics in the form of small pieces of calcinated bone of the Buddhist monks & teachers.
A stupa consists of a solid hemispherical dome on which stands a kind of kiosk. A railing surrounds this (vedika) and even when the construction was of stone, it continued to rsemble wooden railings of the past in design.
The Sanchi stupa in Madhya Pradesh is the best specimen of stupa art. The finest of Buddhist stupas in South India is that in Amaravathi, Andhra Pradesh. Stupas were also erected in Nagarjunakonda, Jaggayapetta and Ghantasala in South India.
Smaller miniature stupas were also placed around the main, as is the case in Bodh Gaya, Gandhara and Nepal, where the pilgrims placed the stone replicas, sometimes with a Buddha statue within. The Gandhara stupas show great development in decorative sculptural elegance with a higher base.