Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath is one of the most famous and most visited tourist spot in India. Emperor Ashoka erected this pillar like several others in other parts of his kingdom. The date of erection and commissioner of this pillar is also confirmed by the edicts of Ashoka that is engraved on it. The pillar also records the visit of Ashoka to Sarnath. The year of his visit is said to be around mid 3rd century BC. It is interesting to note that at one time, the Ashoka Pillar of Sarnath stood over 17 meters in height. Its capital with the four lions back to back that has been adopted as the official emblem of modern India can be seen in the museum at Sarnath.
The pillar of Ashoka at Sarnath is famous for its edict. It bears one
of the edicts of Ashoka. The edict has an inscription that is said to
target schism within the Buddhist community. It reads, "No one
shall cause division in the order of monks". The Ashoka Pillar at
Sarnath is actually a column surmounted by a capital. Among others, it
consists of a canopy representing an inverted bell-shaped lotus flower.
A short cylindrical abacus assists it where four 24-spoked Dharma wheels
with four animals (an elephant, a bull, a horse, a lion in this order),
and four lions face the four cardinal directions. The four animals are
believed to symbolize different steps of the Gautam Buddha's life.