One of the important Buddhist stupas in Sarnath, Chaukhandi Stupa, is believed to have evolved from a centuries-old burial mound. This large, ruined stupa was initially built in the 4th and 6th centuries as a terraced temple during the Gupta period.
Rectangular in shape, with steps leading upwards, it was decorated with sculptures of the Buddha. It is a lofty mound of brickwork whose square edifice is surrounded by an octagonal tower.
The Chaukhandi Stupa mark the site where Lord Buddha first met a group of five ascetics (who were later to become his first disciples) while traveling from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath.
In later years during the medieval era, son of Raja Todarmal, Govardhan, revamped this place and gave the present day shape. The stupa got an octagonal tower shape and it is commonly believed that Govardhan built the tower to honor the visit of the Mughal ruler Humayun.
Another story revolving around the inception of the octagonal tower is that it was Mughal Emperor, Akbar, who had ordered his finance secretary, Govardhan, to build this tower on top of Chaukhandi Stupa in 1588. A Persian inscription on the doorways of Chaukhandi Stupa reads, “As Humayun, king of seven climes, now residing in Paradise, had a wish to come here and sit one day and increase the splendour of the sun. So Akbar, his son and humble servant resolve to build on this spot a lofty tower reaching the blue sky.”
Chaukhandi Stupa is one of the important Buddhist Stupas at Sarnath and a popular tourist site in Uttar Pradesh. The stupa is a site of national importance and is maintained by It is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The serenity of the place that is adorned with lush greenery has the power to soothe and relax one’s mind and is regarded as a perfect place for meditation.
The stupa is also the gateway to Buddhist’s holy place, Sarnath. Close to the stupa, one can also see ruins of monasteries with some courtyards and verandas still recognizable. Built thousands of years ago, this site is visited by Buddhists from all around the world. It was excavated by Alexender Cunningham (1934-36) and Daya Ram Sahni (1927-32).