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Lion Capital of Ashoka

Ashoka Pillar Sarnath

Ashoka pillar in Sarnath is important tourist attraction located standing in west of Sarnath archaeological park. At present it is in 4 fragments kept in grilled enclosure. It is also referred as Lion Capital of India in which 4 lions are shown on top of pillar, looking in 4 different directions, linked back to back. It is a popular symbol in India as its graphic representation is adopted as National Emblem of India. This famous pillar was erected by Mauryan emperor Ashoka in 250 BCE. During rule of emperor Ashoka, many such pillars had been installed at different places in Northern Indian sub-continent.

Ashoka Pillar
At present this pillar is under a flat roof and surrounded by iron-railing to ensure its protection and reduce chance of any damage. It is believed to be standing at the point where Buddha gave first sermon to first five disciples. Pillar is made up of Chunar Sandstone and bears 3 inscriptions in Brahmi script. Its original height is 15.25 meters and base diameter is 0.71 meters which reduces consistently towards top up to 0.56 meters. At the top of pillar, four lions, facing four different directions was placed but now it can be seen at the top of tower and is placed in Sarnath Archaeological Museum, close to the site. This sculpture of 4 lions is referred as Lion Capital of Ashoka and is now the national emblem of India. Below these lions, we can also see the sculptured images of lion, elephant, horse and bull with wheel having 24 spokes. The same 24-spoke wheel is used in National flag of India and named as "Ashoka Chakra" or "Wheel of Dharma". Lion capital at Sarnath museum is more elaborate than other surviving capitals. During Sarnath sightseeing, one should must see Ashoka pillar and lion capital.

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