CATEGORIES2019 Conference Papers Conference Papers Interpretation traditional built environment and practice
Architecturally speaking, the earliest and most basic interpretation of stupa is nothing but a
dust burial mound. However, the historic significance of this built form has evolved through time, as has
its rudimentary structure. The massive dome-shaped “anda” form which has now become synonymous
with the idea of this Buddhist shrine, is the result of years of cultural, social and geographical influences.
The beauty of this typology of architecture lies in its intricate details, interesting motifs and immense
symbolism, reflected and adapted in various local contexts across the world. Today, the word “stupa” is
used interchangeably while referring to monuments such as pagodas, wat, etc. This paper is, therefore,
an attempt to understand the ideology and the concept of a stupa, with a focus on tracing its history
and transition over time. The main objective of the research is not just to understand the essence of the
architectural and theological aspects of the traditional stupa but also to understand how geographical
factors, advances in material, and local socio-cultural norms have given way to a much broader
definition of this word, encompassing all forms, from a simplistic mound to grand, elaborate sanctums
of great value to architecture and society as a whole.
Keywords: Stupas; Buddhist architecture; Ideology; Pagodas; Dagabas; Chortens.