Sanchi, Information about Sanchi, Travel to Sanchi
              Sanchi
Information about Sanchi

Sanchi is an important Buddhist pilgrimage center of India. Sanchi is situated about 68 km. north of Bhopal on a hill rising from the plains. This hill is topped by some of the oldest and most interesting Buddhist shrines in the country. The imposing hilltop site offers commanding views of the surrounding countryside. Sanchi is a peaceful town crowned by a group of stupas and abandoned monasteries that are one of the most important Buddhist sites in India. Sanchi is known for the famous stupa, built by the Emperor Ashoka.

History of Sanchi

Sanchi had no direct connections with the life of Lord Buddha. It was a centre of Hinayana (the “Lesser Vehicle”) of Buddhism. But, the Buddha’s greatest disciple Emperor Ashoka came here and built the first stupa in the third century B.C. During the succeeding years, a great number of other stupas and Buddhist buildings were added. With the decline of Buddhism, the monuments of Sanchi were totally forgotten. It was only through chance that Sanchi was re-discovered in 1818 by a British officer, General Taylor. During the following years, amateur archaeologists and greedy treasure hunters did great damage to the monuments. The Ashoka Pillar was used to build a sugarcane press. Between 1912 and 1919, the structures were carefully repaired and restored through the efforts of an archaeologist and historian, Sir George Marshal. 

Tourist Attractions in Sanchi

The main tourist attraction in Sanchi is the Great Stupa. Besides this stupa, Sanchi has various other stupas and ruins of several Buddhist temples and monasteries.

The Great Stupa
The Great Stupa at Sanchi was originally built by Ashoka in the third century B.C. The Great Stupa was later enlarged. The original brick stupa was enclosed within a stone one. At present it stands 16 metres high and 37 metres in diameter. A balcony, walkway and railing encircles the Stupa. After 75 years, the four magnificently carved gateways or Toranas were built. These Toranas are among the finest works of Buddhist art in India. In 450 AD, four images of the Buddha (belonging to the later period) were placed facing each of the four gateways. The four gateways were erected around 35 B.C. They fell down during restoration. The scenes carved on the pillars are from the Jataka Tales, about the previous lives of Lord Buddha and events in the subsequent history of Buddhism. There were legends concerning the Buddha’s previous lives before he was reincarnated as Siddhartha, Gautama the Buddha. The gateways have been so

Great Stupa, Sanchi

finely carved and with such inspiration that they are regarded as the finest of all Buddhist toranas. The northern gateway is the best preserved. At that time, the Buddha was not worshipped in human form. His presence was often indicated by the Bodhi tree or his footsteps. Some of the interesting scenes from Buddha’s life like ascending a road into the air and a monkey offering a bowl of honey to Buddha are shown on the gateway. Elephants in four directions support the architraves above the columns while horses with riders and elephants fill the gaps between the architraves. Buddha’s life and teachings are conveyed through symbols in early Buddhist art. Various pillars are scattered around the side of stupa. The most important among these is Pillar No. 10 which was erected by Ashoka and stands close to the south entrance of the stupa. Only the base of this beautifully proportioned shaft stands now. The three back-to-back lions which once topped the column are a good example of Greek-Buddhist art of that period. They now form part of India’s national emblem and can be seen on every bank-note. There are a few more interesting pillars which can be seen here. 

Other Stupas
The various other stupas in Sanchi are the Stupa II and Stupa III. Stupa II is one of the most interesting of the lesser Stupas. There are no gateways here but the medallions which decorate the surrounding walls are interesting. Flowers, animals, people and some mythological creatures adorn the walls. Stupa III stands in the north-east of the Great Stupa. It has only one gateway. It is smaller in size and similar in design to the Great Stupa. It is believed that this Stupa was built soon after the Great Stupa was constructed.

Excursions

Vidisha
Vidisha is situated about 10 km from Sanchi where Emperor Ashoka ruled as a viceroy. This place belongs to the 2nd century B.C. The Hindu shrine shows bricks cemented together with lime mortar, the earliest known use of cement. The Heliodorus Pillar nearby, was erected in 140 B.C. by a Greek who embraced the Hindu religion.

Udaypur Caves
Udaypur Caves is situated about 90 km from Sanchi and has colossal 11th century temple of Neelkanteshwar. 

How to get here

By Air:
The nearest airport is located in Bhopal, about 46 km from Sanchi.

By Rail:
The railway station of Sanchi is located on the Central Railway.

By Road:
Sanchi is connected by road with Indore, Bhopal, Gwalior and other places.

States in North India
Delhi || Jammu & Kashmir || Haryana & Punjab || Himachal Pradesh || Madhya Pradesh || Rajasthan || Uttar Pradesh || Uttaranchal

Information about Madhya Pradesh
Introduction || History || Geography || Climate || Economy || People || Languages || Festivals || Tourist Attractions || Wildlife Sanctuaries

Cities in Madhya Pradesh
Bhopal || Gwalior || Indore || Jabalpur || Khajuraho || Mandu || Orchha || Sanchi || Ujjain

Distances from Cities in Madhya Pradesh
Bandhavgarh || Bhopal || Gwalior || Hissar || Indore || Jabalpur || Kanha || Khajuraho || Shivpuri || Ujjain

Fair and Festivals of Madhya Pradesh
Madai Festival || Bhagoriya Festival || Karma Festival || Nagaji Fair || Mahashivratri || Khajuraho Dance Festival || Tansen Music Festival


Tourist Attractions in Madhya Pradesh
Eastern Group of Temples || Western Group of Temples

Wildlife Sanctuaries of Madhya Pradesh
Bandhavgarh National Park || Kanha National Park

 

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