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A relief from Barhut.
Location of Bharhut
in Madhya Pradesh
Coordinates 23°19′N 80°34′E / 23.31°N 80.57°E / 23.31; 80.57
Country  India
State Madhya Pradesh
District(s) Satna
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)

Bharhut or Barhut, is a location in Satna district in Madhya Pradesh, Central India, known for its famous Buddhist stupa. The Bharhut stupa may have been established by the Maurya king Asoka in the 3rd century BCE, but many works of art were apparently added during the Sunga period, with many friezes from the 2nd century BCE. An epigraph on the gateway mention its erection "during the supremacy of the Sungas"[1] by Vatsiputra Dhanabhuti[2].

Yakshi reliefs. Bharhut, 2nd century BCE.

The stupa (now dismantled and reassembled at Kolkata Museum) contains numerous birth stories of the Buddha's previous lives, or Jataka tales. Many of them are in the shape of large, round medallions.

In confirmity 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.

The style is generally flat (no sculptures in the round), and all characters are depicted wearing the Indian dhoti, except for one foreigner, thought to be an Indo-Greek soldier, with Buddhist symbolism.

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

All the archaeological objects from the stupa have been moved to the Calcutta's Indian Museum.[2] No antiquities exist at Bharhut now.


  1. ^ John Marshall, "An Historical and Artistic Description of Sanchi", from A Guide to Sanchi, citing p. 11. Calcutta: Superintendent, Government Printing (1918). Pp. 7-29 on line, Project South Asia.
  2. ^ a b About INC-ICOM

See also

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