A Stupa is a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics (such as sarira – typically the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns) that is used as a place of meditation. The hemispherical form of the stupa appears to have derived from pre-Buddhist burial mounds in India. 

Most stupas have a very distinctive semi-spherical shape, often surrounded by a fence. As Buddhism was introduced in different regions, the basic architectural features of stupas were transformed into a variety of shapes reflecting the artistic expressions of those cultures.