Chedi tagging

I’ve seen many chedis in Thailand was tagged as a man_made=tower + tower:type=stupa. Taginfo shows that there are 1086 of this type of object around the world. I was searching for the origin and I found that it may have begun in 2013 by AlaskaDave’s edit of the wiki page (the page was separated from the man_made=tower page later), with the suggestion from cartinus (at ). What I’m not sure is why cartinus confidently said that “It’s a tower”.

Although a stupa is usually higher than its width, I’ve browsed through and found that the difference between a man_made=tower and a man_made=mast is: “A tower is accessible and provides platforms, whereas a mast only offers ladder steps to climb it.”. By this message, a stupa should not be either a tower or a mast, as most of them are not accessible or have a ladder outside. Moreover, a stupa could be any height from only 1-2 meters to 100 meters. Tagging all of them with man_made=tower shoudn’t be appropriate. Some temple will consist of hundreds of towers, which is not make sense and would make the small stupa more important than it should. In addition, not all of the stupas are higher than their width, such as the Sanchi Stupa, the oldest stupa, is around 16 meters tall and 36 meters wide, while the Phra Pathom Chedi, the tallest stupa, is around 120 meters tall and 100 meters wide, not much different.

IMO, a tower or a mast should be something that provides a platform or any kind of function or purpose at the top, or nearly top, of the structure, as opposed to a stupa. A stupa is like a large sculpture used for worshiping. Most of them contains bone ashes or sacred items at their base or underground under them. So, the tagging of building=religious or initiating a new tag like building=stupa or even building=yes should be enough for tagging a stupa (with a whole temple area tagged as amenity=place_of_worship).

But how can we have a specific tag for a stupa? I suggest that is should be under the historic tag. Why?, because the stupa was built to commemorate something, mostly to bury bone ash (but some of them may not contain anything as they were built simultaneously to be just a symbolic structure for a temple layout). The similar kind of building I can think about is the Egyptian Pyramids, which are currently tagged as historic=monument. For the above reason, I can think of 2 ways of tagging:

  1. tag the main stupa of the temple, which stands out from the other buildings at its height, with historic=monument, and the general stupa in the temple with historic=memorial + memorial=stupa (create new one), this way can lead to a problem of deciding whether each stupa is a monument or a memorial.
  2. create a new tag like historic=stupa, this way is clear, but I’m not sure about putting a stupa in like a top-level historic tag.

Any ideas?

The tagging of a stupa as a tower was developed, IIRC, by kicking the idea around on the tagging list. It’s not a perfect solution but it was easy to implement at the time and it’s easy to change if we come up with a different scenario. Again, if memory serves, we did not want to create a new top-level tag for some reason so decided to make stupa a subtag of man_made=tower with the preexisting tower:type tag.

Deciding to use historic=stupa would imply that all stupas are old whereas that is definitely not the case. New temples are being built in Thailand and some of those include a tall tower-like structure, wider at the bottom than the top, that we tag as a atupa. I understand that the structure may contain historic artifacts, bones, or whatever, but that does not make the structure itself historic.

I would object to tagging any of the stupas I’ve tagged as a “mast”. IT simply doesn’t meet my idea of a mast, which in English usage implies a long slender tower, usually a metal lattice but sometimes solid as the mast of a sailing ship would be.

I’m not against changing the tagging of these structures but frankly, I don’t think the present tags are all that problematical. However, I am not a Thai person and a Thai’s view of these structures and their religious significance is perhaps more informed than mine.


I understand the point of having some places with an inflated number of tower:type=stupa. At least with the current rendering it is way too prominent if only tower is considered. But this is a problem of the rendering and should be addressed at the renderer.

So here the focus should be whether it fits roughly the definition of tower.

There are roughly 1.100 instances of tower:type=stupa and this tag is described in multiple localized wiki pages.
In addition there are roughly 200 instances which tag building=stupa.
monument=stupa is used 100 times.
and there are minor uses of chedi and stupa in different writing styles and on different tags.

Going with building=stupa might be an alternative way, as renderer can display buildings in a generic way or adding special support for stupas.

Less than a third of the tagged stupas are within Thailand (and only one with the building tag).
So this discussion should be done in an international way to address all stupas/chedis.

For reference, this is the thread seven years ago when we discussed this topic in a wider audience:

historic=ruins was a proposal for the ones no longer “actively in use”, like the ones you can find all around Chiang Mai.

Eight years ago there was this discussion:

Here tagging list was involved, in the context of campanile.


The historic tag doesn’t imply that all structures are old. The historic=monument and historic=memorial tag can be used to tag any appropriate type of structure which was built even just yesterday.
If we’re not going to create a new tag, the definition of historic=monument “A memorial object, which is especially large, built to remember, show respect to a person or group of people or to commemorate an event.” and historic=memorial “Small memorials, usually remembering special persons, people who lost their lives in the wars, past events or missing places.” is suited perfectly to stupas, because all of them were built to commemorate a person or an event. None of the stupas are built for just decoration or for climbing up to do something.
Many objects with historic=monument and historic=memorial are higher than their width, but very few of them were tagged as man_made=tower, so I think there might be some problems with the definition of man_made=tower in wiki page.

I agree with this kind of tagging in building terms, to distinguish them from a general building=yes and building=temple. However, tagging in historic or man_made terms can be used in conjunction to collect some information in their own ways. However, in my understanding, the man_made tag was created to be used for a structure which is not a building. Although some of them are tagged both building and man_made, it might be better to specify whether the structure is a building or a man_made.

According to , even a communications_tower, water_tower and lighthouse can have their own tag separated from a general tower, so at least man_made=stupa should be acceptable. Because a stupa usually has no space for people to enter, identifying it as a man_made may be more appropriate than a building. For some stupas with space for people to use inside, we can have a building=stupa tag added. (Now the OSM-Carto rendering does not render the area of the man_made object if the building tag is not used in combination. This might have to be fixed at the renderer.)

If man_made=stupa cannot be used and we must stick with man_made=tower, I strongly oppose tagging all stupas with man_made=tower, especially a small stupa of a few meters in height. If it is necessary in some cases, I could accept only for the especially large stupas, which stand as a landmark of a city, but it may be hard to specify which height or scale it should be appropriate. Tagging these massive stupas with historic=monument should be preferable, but tagging in both man_made and historic terms could be acceptable.

historic=ruins + ruins=stupa should be ideal for a mostly destroyed stupa, with only the base remaining. For only abandoned stupas with some damage, adding a ruins=yes tag should suffice, as shown in .

If creating a new top-level tag is not to do at all, how about this tagging scheme:

  1. For the main stupa of the temple, which stands out from the other buildings at its height (can be seen from most areas of the temple), tag them with historic=monument + monument=stupa + building=stupa. Some temples have only 1 of this type of stupa. Some temples have none of them. Very few temples have more than 1 of them.
  2. For other stupas in the temple, tag them with historic=memorial + memorial=stupa + building=stupa.

However, now I’ve come across a solution that creating a man_made=stupa could solve all the problems we’ve been talking about. I found that man_made=cross ( ) was created to use with some crosses that do not qualify for historic=wayside_cross, which is likely the same as our problem. By this way, the historic=monument and historic=memorial could be used in addition only for significant stupas with rich historic values, and building=stupa could be used together for a stupa with a space to use inside. Then we can get rid of man_made=tower. To specify how large it is, we can use a height= * tag which was used across many tags.

Since there are only 1086 stupas in the OSM universe, my project of mapping a historic site around Thailand could easily surpass all of them in the number. But to have a solution before going to tag on myself should be a better way. How can we have a consensus on an international scale?

Stupas are also very frequent in Sri Lanka. How are they tagged there?

not so consistent either.

Combinations of historic=monument + monument=stupa + building=stupa seem logical to me. With place of worship when relevant.

While some stupas in some regions may be towers, that does not apply to all, everywhere. Including the Borobodur stupa to take the largest and most notable one (probably), nor the relict mounds in the early days of Buddhism.

I’m not in favour of ‘man_made’ for anything except when more precise terms like building don’t apply.

I have no issue with revising the tagging of these objects. As a foreigner however, I am not the best judge of whether a particular chedi qualifies for any of the historic tags or not.

I don’t agree with Indigomc about the man_made tag so the tagging I would prefer if we’re going to make changes is man_made=chedi. That way a person like me who lives in Thailand but is not religious or familiar with a chedi’s history can leave it at that and let others add the more specialized tags.

Again, I’m not partial to any of the scenarios presented here nor do I feel it’s necessary to change what is in use already. But I’ll go with whatever consensus results from this thread.

While building should have a floor, wall and roof, as well as some space that people can inhabit, a stupa is unlikely to be a building because most of them have no entrance. Anyway, man_made could be used for some structure which we can define as building, but have some characteristics that are different from general buildings, such as man_made=lighthouse, man_made=observatory, man_made=works, etc.

I think I’m going to create a proposal for man_made=stupa, but I’ll wait for a while for further discussion.

I’ve created a proposal at
It welcomes anyone to comment.

building=stupa sounds wrong. man_made fits better, see Wiki:
A tag for identifying man-made (artificial) structures added to the landscape
a man-made structure with a roof, standing more or less permanently in one place

The point of Dave is quite valid: How to keep the tagging simple enough, so that contributions are not constantly breaking the tagging? In OSM we frequently have a generic “main tag” and then adding more details with sub-tags.

The proposal is ready to voting.
It invites everyone to take part.