The pillars of Ashoka are a series of columns dispersed throughout the northern Indian subcontinent, erected or at least inscribed with edicts by the Mauryan king Ashoka during his reign in the 3rd century BC. Originally, there must have been many pillars but only nineteen survive with inscriptions. Many are preserved in a fragmentary state. Averaging between forty and fifty feet in height, and weighing up to fifty tons each, all the pillars were quarried at Chunar, just south of Varanasi and dragged, sometimes hundreds of miles, to where they were erected.
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