Tradition has it that stupas or tumuli were built over the ashes of the Buddha. Some of the earlier stupas in India were built by Ashoka, the greatest Mauryan emperor, in honour of the Buddha in many parts of India and Nepal. The great stupa flanked by flights of steps and terraces, votive stupas and beautiful sculpture give the present day tourists a glimpse of the past glory that once was Nalanda. Many of the stupas were two or even three times built one over the other on the same spot. In the course of excavation it has been found that the very small original structure was enlarged by later temples built over and around the ruins of the earlier ones. The main stupa is the result of seven successive accumulations of the shrine-chamber on the top, facing both, can be approached by the staircase of the sixth period. It presumably contained a colossal image of the Lord Buddha, as the pedestal therein would indicate.