The pillars of Ashoka are a series of columns dispersed throughout the northern Indian subcontinent, erected or at least inscribed by the Mauryan king Ashoka during his reign in the 3rd century BCE. 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.
The columns that bear the edicts of Ashoka include the two pillars at Delhi (originally located at Meerut and Topra in Haryana and were brought to Delhi during the reign of Firuz Shah Tughluq in 1356), the pillar at Allahabad (is believed as originally located at Kaushambi) and the pillars found at Lauriya-Areraj, Lauriya-Nandangarh, Rampurva (with lion capital), Sankissa, Sanchi and Sarnath. The columns bearing dedicatory inscriptions were found in Lumbini and Nigalisagar. The pillars found at Vaishali (with single lion capital) and Rampurva (with bull capital) do not bear any edict.
The most celebrated pillar is the pillar with the lion capital at Sarnath by Emperor Ashoka circa 250 BCE. also called as "Asoka Column" . Here, four lions are seated back to back. At present the Column remains in the same place where are the Lion Capital is at the Sarnath Museum. This Lion Capital of Ashoka from Sarnath has been adopted as the National Emblem of India and the wheel "Ashoka Chakra" from its base was placed onto the center of the National Flag of India.