World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Relief from Bharhut.
Bharhut is located in Madhya Pradesh
Shown within Madhya Pradesh
Basic information
Location India
Geographic coordinates
Affiliation Buddhism
State Madhya Pradesh
District Satna
Year consecrated 200-300 B.C.
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Stupa ruins present
Status Artifacts Removed

Bharhut (Hindi: भरहुत) is a village located in the Satna district of Madhya Pradesh, central India. It is known for its famous relics from a Buddhist stupa. The Bharhut sculptures represent some of the earliest examples of Indian and Buddhist art.


  • Bharhut stupa 1
  • As representative of early Indian art 2
  • Inscriptions 3
  • Gallery 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • External links 7

Bharhut stupa

The Bharhut stupa may have been first built by the Maurya king Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE, but many works of art were apparently added during the Shunga period, with many friezes from the 2nd century BCE.[1] An epigraph on the gateway of the stupa mentions its erection "during the supremacy of the Shungas by Vatsiputra Dhanabhuti".[2]

In 1873, Alexander Cunningham visited Bharhut. The next year, he excavated the site.[3] J. D. Beglar, Cunningham's assistant, continued the excavation and recorded the work through numerous photographs.

The complex in Bharhut included a medieval temple (plate II), which contained a colossal figure of the Buddha, along with fragments of sculptures showing the Buddha with images of Brahma, Indra etc.[4] Beglar also photographed a 10th-century Buddhist Sanskrit inscription,[5] about which nothing is now known.

The ruined stupa—nothing but foundations of the main structure (see Gallery)—is still in Bharhut; however, the gateways and railings have been dismantled and reassembled at the Indian Museum, Kolkata.[2] They contain numerous birth stories of the Buddha's previous lives, or Jataka tales. Many of them are in the shape of large, round medallions. Two of the panels are at the Smithsonian.[6]

As representative of early Indian art

In conformity with the early aniconic phase of Buddhist art, the Buddha is only represented through symbols, such as the Dharma wheel, the Bodhi tree, an empty seat, footprints, or the triratana symbol.[6]

The style represents the earliest phase of Indian art, and all characters are depicted wearing the Indian dhoti, except for one foreigner thought to be an Indo-Greek soldier, with Buddhist symbolism. The Bharhut carvings are slightly earlier than the Sanchi carvings and the earlier Ajanta frescos.

An unusual feature of the Bharhut panels is the inclusion of text in the narrative panels, often identifying the individuals.[7]


The inscriptions found at Bharhut are of considerable significance in tracing the history of early Indian Buddhism and Buddhist art. 136 inscriptions mention the donors. These include individuals from Vidisha, Purika (a town somewhere in the Vindhya mountains), Pataliputra (Bihar), Karhad (Maharashtra), Bhojakata (Vidarbha, eastern Maharashtra), Kosambi (Uttar Pradesh), and Nasik (Maharashtra). 82 inscriptions serve as labels for panels depicting the Jatakas, the life of the Buddha, former Manushi Buddhas, other stories and Yakshas and Yakshinis.[7]


See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ a b "Bharhut Gallery". INC-ICOM Galleries. Indian National Committee of the International Council of Museums. Retrieved 29 September 2014. 
  3. ^ Cunningham, Sir Alexander (1879). The Stûpa of Bharhut: a Buddhist monument ornamented with numerous sculptures illustrative of Buddhist legend and history in the third century B.C. London:  
  4. ^ "General view of remains of Buddhist temple of later date than the Stupa, Bharhut". Online Gallery.  
  5. ^ "Photograph of a slab with a Buddhist sanskrit inscription". Online Gallery.  
  6. ^ a b "The Art of Buddhism". The  
  7. ^ a b Luders, H.; Waldschmidt, E.; Mehendale, M. A., eds. (1963). "Bharhut Inscriptions". Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum II.  
  8. ^ D.N. Jha,"Early India: A Concise History"p.150, plate 17

External links

  • Bharhut sculpture images
  • Birth of classic form, BENOY K. BEHL, Frontline, Volume 24 - Issue 17 :: Aug. 25-Sep. 07, 2007, covering the art of the Bharhut Stupa
  • Life of the Historical Buddha on the Bharhut Railing
  • Medallions from Barhut
  • Railing at Indian Museum
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.