Ashoka Pillar in Delhi

Ashoka Pillar

The imposing Ashoka Pillar in Delhi was a gift to Delhi by the third Sultan of the Tughlak dynasty, Firoz Shah Tughlak, who was known for his liking for structures of sorts.

About Ashoka pillars in Delhi

There are two Ashoka pillars in Delhi. One of the pillars was transported from Topra on Firozshah Tughlaq's orders. The other pillar, brought from Meerut, is seen installed near Bara Hindu Rao Hospital near Delhi University.

Ashoka Pillar near Delhi Gate

The Ashoka Pillar near Delhi Gate was wrapped in silk cotton when it was brought to Delhi. It was lowered on a soft bed, encased in reed and raw skins and placed on a 42-wheel carriage. It was pulled by two hundred men and placed on the Yamuna bank. The column was then transferred to large boats and carried down to Firozabad and then to Kushak. After completion of each storey, the pillar was raised on to it, till it reached the top.

Ashoka Pillar near Hindu Rao Hospital

Just 100 meters south of Hindu Rao Hospital along the ridge is another Ashoka Pillar belonging to 3rd century BC. It was brought by Feroz Shah Tughlaq in 1356 A.D. The Ashoka Pillar was transported to his hunting lodge in Delhi from Meerut. Like the one in Feroz Shah Kotla, this pillar too has seven main inscriptions or edicts of Emperor Ashoka apart from some figures and many minor inscriptions.

However, the pillar was damaged by a gunpowder explosion in 1713. The Ashoka Pillar was broken into five pieces. In 1838, Hindu Rao took possession of these pieces and donated them to the Asiatic Society of Bengal, Calcutta (Kolkata).

Architecture of Ashoka Pillar in Delhi

Made from polished sandstone, Ashoka Pillar in Delhi which is 14 feet high, tapers towards its top. Here you can find the specimen third century Ashoka Brahmic script, the forerunner of the modern Devnagri script. Some of Ashoka’s message of promoting peace and harmony in the world through the teachings of Lord Buddha is also inscribed at the base of the Ashoka Pillar in Delhi.

Features of Ashoka pillars in Delhi

The four lions of the Ashoka Pillar in Delhi are the main features of the historic monument. There are also non-religious interpretations to the symbolism of the pillars, describing the four lions as the symbol of Ashoka's rule over the four directions. The wheels at Ashoka Pillar in Delhi are symbols of enlightened rule (Chakravartin), and the four animals as symbols of four surrounding territories of India:

The Lion of the north.
The Elephant of the east.
The Bull of the south.
The Horse of the west.