Ashoka Pillar Delhi

The Ashoka pillar, a 46 ft (14m) high monolithic column of sandstone, was carved in the reign of the Buddhist king Ashoka (273-236BC)and originally stood at Topra (Haryana), over 62 miles (100km) to the north, Firoz Shah arranged for it to be transported down the River Yamuna to its present site in 1356. The pillar, wrapped in silk, reeds and animal skins, was laid on a long carriage and pulled by 200 men to the river bank. Perhaps Firoz Shah was inspired by the pharaohs, who had floated their granite obelisks down the Nile from Aswan to Lower Egypt in a similar way. The column was raised as each stage of the stepped- pyramid platform was completed.

Firoz Shah believed that the pillar had mystic powers, but in fact , Ashoka's words, sandwiched between later inscriptions, simply commanded his subjects to follow the teachings of Buddha. The edict, in Brahmi, was not understood until 1837, when James Princep deciphered the characters. Immediately above and below it, further inscriptions, dated 1163, refer to the victories of Visaladeva, a Chauhan prince. Although Firoz Shah did not record his own deeds on the column, Nagri, Sanskrit and Hindi inscriptions were added later. The date 1524 refers to the year in which the pillar was rediscovered. A second Ashoka

pillar, which is contemporary with it, stands on Delhi's North Ridge, within the former site of Firoz Shah's hunting lodge.

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