Located on the foot of a hill-- Sanchi Stupa is just 46 kms Bhopal. It is
more of a village than a town. Sanchi is a religious place with
historical and Archaeological significance. Sanchi is a site for the
numerous stupas which were built on a hill top. The place is related
to Buddhism but not directly to the life of Buddha. It is more
related to Ashoka than to Buddha. Ashoka built the first Sanchi stupa and
put up many pillars here. The crown of famous Ashoka pillars, with
four lions standing back to back, has been adopted as the national
emblem of India.
Sanchi adopted Buddhism which replaced the prominent Hinduism. But
time took its toll and slowly both the stupas and the place were
forgotten. In 1818 Sanchi stupa was rediscovered and it was found that the
marvelous pieces of structure were not in good shape. Gradually
historical and the religious significance of the place was recognise
d. Restoration work of the Sanchi stupas started in 1881 and finally
between 1912 and 1919 these were carefully repaired and restored. It
was accepted that the structure at Sanchi are the most organised
construction which went into the engineering of temples in the
medieval period. The carvings here are done with the precision of
the damage and restoration work done at Sanchi stupa, it is the most evocative
and attractive Buddhist site in India. Sanchi is primarily a place
of Stupas and pillars but the gorgeous gateways add grace to the
place. These gateways are beautifully carved and carry scenes from
the life of Buddha or Ashoka. These gateways are the finest
specimens of early classical art, which formed the seed bed of
entire vocabulary of later Indian art. The images carved on the
pillars and the stupas tell moving story of the incidents form the
life of Buddha.
How to get there?
Sanchi stupa in India is not so hot place on the tourist map and mainly attracts
the Buddhist pilgrims. The nearest Airport is that of Bhopal. From
Bhopal one can take flights to any place in India. From Bhopal one
can hire a taxi or take bus to Sanchi stupas. There is a railway station in
Sanchi which is on the Jhansi-Itarsi section. But the most
convenient railhead is that of Vidisha. Sanchi has motorable roads
which connects the place from any where in the state and as well as
the tourists places in the neighbouring states.
Places of interest Near Sanchi Stupa
The Four Gate Ways
The Four gateways constructed in 35 BC are the best from of
Buddhist expression one can find any where in the world. Gateways or
Torans as they are called are covered with explicit carving which
depict scenes from the life Buddha and Jatakas, the stories relating
to Buddha and his earlier births. At this stage Buddha was not
represented directly but symbols were used to portray him-- The
lotus represents his birth, the tree his enlightenment, the wheel,
derived from the title of his first sermon, the footprints and throw
symbolising his presence. The carvings on the Torans are done with
inspired imagery which in harmony with the surrounding figures
balance the solidity of massive stupas.
The Ashoka Pillar
The Ashoka pillars is one many pillars which are scattered in the
area some of these are in broken and some in shape. The Ashoka
pillar is on the southern entrance. Today here only the shaft stands
and the crown is kept in the museum. The crown is the famous four
lions which stand back to back. This figure was adopted as the
national Emblem of India. The Ashoka pillars are an excellent
example of he Greco-Buddhist style and is known for the aesthetic
proportions and the exquisite structural balance.
Sanchi has been famous for the Stupas which were built on the top
of a hill. The purpose of these stupas was mostly religious. The
most likely use of the stupas has been said to keep the relics. Some
of these stupas have been found containing relics of disciples of
Buddha. The stupas date as early as the 3rd century and are built in
brick made of stone. Though most of the stupas are in ruins now
three remain intact and are of great archaeological value. The
designs and the carvings on the walls and gates of these stupas
spell a heavenly grace and are very tastefully done.
The Gupta Temple
temple is now in ruins. But what ever is left tells a saga of
greatness and a temple which had no match during its times. The
temple was built in 5 the century and is an excellent example of
ancient temple architecture in India.
The archaeological survey of India maintains a museum which house
many items which were discovered during the excavation of Sanchi
area. Most prized possession of the museum is the lion crown from
Ashoka pillar. The museum has a sizeable collection of utensils and
other items used by the monks who lived here.
The Buddhist Vihara
The earlier monasteries were made from wood which was exquisitely
carved and tastefully decorated. The present monasteries are not
even the shadow of what they were in the past. A few kms from Sanchi
are the relics of the Satdhara Stupa. The relics are kept in glass
casket which is placed on the inner sanctum of the modern monastery.
The Great Bowl
Sanchi had a huge bowl carved out of single rock. Grain was stored
in this bowl and it was distributed among the monks in Sanchi.
A Malwa fort built in the 13th century adorns this huge and
colourful hill. Apart from the fort there are temples, cannons,
three palaces, well and tanks. This place very ancient and lively.
The Fort of Raisen was under an independent ruler but later it
passed under the ruler of Mandu. One can spot ancient painting in
the caves around this region. It is 23 kms from Sanchi.
Just 10 kms from Sanchi is a place called Videsha. In ancient times
this place was called the Besnagar and was one of the largest town
in the area.
90 kms north of Sanchi is an fine example of Indo-Aryan
architecture. The structure is the Neelkantheswara temple. This
temple was built in the 11th century. The special thing about the
architecture of this temple is that rays of the morning sun shines
on the presiding deity of the temple. The temple is covered with
profusely carved walls and pillars. There are four are prominently
decorated bands around the Sikhara of this temple.
Gyaras is the name of the fair which is organised in the 11th month
every year. This place is just 51 kms from Sanchi and many temples,
tanks and a fort dating to 9th and 10th century. But the main
attraction has been the big fair.
Just 10 kms from the stupas of Sanchi are eight more stupas of
which two are very important.
This place was discovered after Sanchi. The place has three small
stupas but these are well preserved . Andher is eight kms from
Towards the west of Sanchi are two more stupas which are worth
visiting. These stupas are on the banks of river Beas.