Stupas are burial mounds and reliquaries for religious objects and remains. Early stupas were large mounded buildings made from stone.
The first 10 stupas were formed to hold the ashes of the Buddha. These mounds became sites of religious significance. Worshipers came to the mounds to pray or to walk around them in a clockwise circle, as a kind of meditation. Later, other stupas were built to hold subdivided remains of the Buddha and the bodies of other great religious leaders. The design of stupas became more and more complex with the addition of stone fencing and decorative carvings of goddesses and other religious elements. Some stupas went from circular mounds to tall stacked buildings. Yet, all remain housing for Buddhist relics.