. Construction of stupas and viharas as part of monastic establishments became part of the Buddhist tradition. However, in this period, apart from stupas and viharas, stone pillars, rock-cut caves and monumental figure sculptures were carved at several places. The tradition of constructing pillars is very old and it may be observed that erection of pillars was prevalent in the Achamenian empire as well. But the Mauryan pillars are different from the Achamenian pillars. The Mauryan pillars are rock-cut pillars thus displaying the carver’s skills, whereas the Achamenian pillars are constructed in pieces by a mason. Stone pillars were erected all over the Mauryan Empire with inscriptions engraved on them. The top portion of the pillar was carved with capital figures like the bull, the lion, the elephant, etc. All the capital figures are vigorousand carved standing on a square or circular abacus. Abacuses are decorated with stylised lotuses. Some of the existing pillars with capital figures were found at Basarah-Bakhira, LauriyaNandangarh, Rampurva, Sankisa and Sarnath.
The Mauryan pillar capital found at Sarnath popularly known as the Lion Capital is the finest example of Mauryan sculptural tradition. It is also our national emblem. It is carved with considerable care—voluminous roaring lion figures firmly standing on a circular abacus which is carved with the figures of a horse, a bull, a lion and an elephant in vigorous movement, executed with precision, showing considerable mastery in the sculptural techniques. This pillar capital symbolising Dhammachakrapravartana (the first sermon by the Buddha) has become a standard symbol of this great historical event in the life of the Buddha.