Sanchi Stupa

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India >> Madhya Pradesh >> Bhopal >> Attractions >> Sanchi Stupa

Sanchi Stupa

History

Sanchi is 46 kms from Bhopal and is known for its Stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. The monuments at Sanchi were declared a World Heritage Site in 1989 and recently have been honoured with the prestigious National Heritage Award.

The most famous of these monuments, the Sanchi Stupa was built by the Mauryan Ruler Ashoka who, at that time was the Governor General of the Ujjayini kingdom. The 2,300 years old Buddhist Stupas at Sanchi demonstrate intricate structures with popular Buddhist legends as their theme. It is believed that in the early period the sculptures and figures at Sanchi depicted Buddha through symbols. Lotus symbolized Buddha's birth, tree symbolized the enlightenment of Buddha and wheel symbolized his salvation while footprints and throne denotes his presence.

The Great Stupa No. 1 is a must see monument at Sanchi. It is the oldest stone structure in India, 37 meters in diameter and 17 meters in height with a massive semi-circular dome. The Stupa was rebuilt in the 2nd and 3rd century BC and still stands in everlasting magnificence and the cemented path around it is worn smooth by thousands of pilgrims. Chunar sandstone pillar fragment, shining with the proverbial Mauryan plish, lies near Stupa1 and carries the famous edict of Ashoka’s warning against schism in the Buddhist community.

This Stupa has 4 bejewelled gateways known as the Eastern, Western, Southern and Northern Gateway. The four gateways of the Stupa built in the 1st century B.C. reflect stories of Buddha’s past and present carved on them and are the finest specimens of early classical art.

The Eastern Gateway: It portrays Gautama Buddha abandoning his palace to seek enlightenment.

The Western Gateway: It depicts the seven manifestations of the Buddha.

The Southern Gateway: It represents the birth of Buddha in a sequence of spectacularly rich carvings.

The Northern Gateway: It depicts the miracles associated with the Buddha. The other stunning structures at Sanchi include Stupa No. 2, Stupa No. 3, The Ashoka Pillar, The Buddhist Vihara, The Great Bowl, The Gupta Temple and The Museum.

The Stupa No. 2 stands at the very edge of the hill and its most striking feature is the stone railing that rings it. The Stupa No. 3 is situated close to the great stupa. The curved dome is crowned, as a mark of its special religious significance, with an umbrella of elegant stone. The relics of Sariputta and Mahamogallena, two of the Buddha's initial disciple, were found in its innermost chamber.

The Ashokan Pillar sets a fine example of its artistic proportions and exquisite structural balance.

The Buddhist Vihara is the sacred relics of the Satdhara Stupa, a few km away from Sanchi, have been preserved in a glass casket on a podium in the inner chamber of his present monastery.

The Great Bowl is carved out of a chunk of stone and this enormous bowl contained the food that was distributed among the monks of Sanchi.

The Museum at Sanchi is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India and striking antiquities are displayed to the tourists which includes the lion capital of the Ashokan pillar and metal objects used by the monks, discovered during excavations at Sanchi.

Best time to visit

Bhopal has a temperate climate, so all times of the year are pleasant for a trip. However, the very best time to visit the city and combine it with a trip to the other tourist attractions in the state would be the winter season from November to February/March.

Trivia

Have you ever wondered from where the national emblem of India has been derived? It was derived from the Ashokan Pillar of Sanchi Stupa!

Timing

Sanchi Stupa is opened on all the weekdays from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm in the evening. The best months to visit the monument are in winters from November to February.


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