Stambhas (pillars) were set up in
the Buddhist sacred places and along the highways. Emperor Ashoka made
a major contribution, setting up atleast thirty such pillars.
A stambha consists of a circular
column or shaft slightly tapering towards the summit (monolithic). On top
of this shaft is the Persepolitan bell or the inverted lotus shaped base.
Above this is the abacus on top of which rests the crowning sculpture.
These three portions were carved out of a single stone (monolithic).
The stambhas erected during various
periods have shown a development in style and structure. Some fine examles
are the Basarh Bakhira (with lion capital), Laurya Nandangarh in Champaran
district of Nepal (with a seated lion capital on an inverted lotus and
The Saranath stambha with its four
lions seated back to back as its crowning sculpture is a fine specimen.
Following the Buddhists, the Hindus and the Jains also had columns. (Garuda
pillar at Besnagar).
The famous iron pillar from the Gupta
period is a fine specimen, withstanding exposure to rain and storm, yet
remaining smooth and unrusted bearing testimony to the mastery of Indian