I didn’t tell you about the monks! I’ve had the opportunity to go to Sarnath International Nyingma Institute. It’s a Buddhist institute that holds the sacred text of Buddha as well as teaching young Tibetan monks English while still carrying out their other scholarly duties. We planted some trees and last Friday we cooked them dinner as a graduation celebration. On the first occasion we got to witness the Stupa ceremony which was really special and on my return I saw the lid complete. A stupa (Sanskrit: "heap") is a mound-like or hemispherical structure containing relics (śarīra - typically the remains of Buddhist monks or nuns) that is used as a place of meditation. A related architectural term is a chaitya, which is a prayer hall or temple containing a stupa.
In Buddhism, circumambulation or pradakhshina has been an important ritual and devotional practice since the earliest times, and stupas always have a pradakhshina path around them.
This kind of stupa is known as the "Stupa of Many Gates". After reaching enlightenment, the Buddha taught his first students in a deer park near Sarnath. The series of doors on each side of the steps represents the first teachings: the Four Noble Truths, the Six Pāramitās, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Twelve Nidānas.