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Shubhyatra >> Madhya Pradesh Yatra >> Sanchi Stupa

SANCHI STUPA

Location : 46 kms from Bhopal
Most Famous Stupa : The Great Stupa
Built By : Emperor Asoka
Built In : 3rd Century to 12th Century
A Congregation at Sanchi Stupa
A Congregation at Sanchi Stupa


FACT FILE
Major Attractions : 50 Stupas, Decorated Gateways, Pillars, Relics of Buddha.
Known For : Buddhist Pilgrimage.
Renowned As : World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Must See : The Great Bowl - Used to Distribute Food Among Monks. This Humongous Bowl Was Constructed Out of a Single Block of Stone.
Main Theme : Episodes Form the Life of Lord Buddha.
Other Attractions : Asoka Pillar, Great Bowl.
Inside Tip : This is a World Heritage Site. Maintain Cleanliness and do not Tamper or in Any Manner Cause Destruction Around the Monuments.
Don't Miss : The Famous Ashokan Pillar, that Shares its Lions with Indian Emblem.
Getting There : Air - Bhopal (46 kms) is the Nearest Airport, Well Connected with Major Airports of the World.
Rail - Bhopal (46 kms) is the Nearest Airport, Well Connected with Major Airports of the World.
Road - Bus Services are Available from the Various Cities and Towns of Madhya Pradesh.

Stupas At Sanchi – Store House of Buddhism

Madhya Pradesh is not only hub for Hindu and Muslim pilgrimage, but also home the most important pilgrimage attraction for the Buddhists as well. Accost this village cum town, which Ashoka cherished and homed for many years. Come to this temple of learning, that was once considered to be the ancient seat of Buddhist learning. Though dedicated to Buddhism, it is loosely referred to be the dedicated to Ashoka, who built this great Sanchi Stupa. When you are here, make sure you notice the four lions (on the pillars) that one can find on the Indian emblem. This emblem was in fact borrowed from here.
Sanchi is one of those places that were custom-made for black and white history textbooks. Revolving around the chapters of Buddhism, this evocative and site has been a microcosm of Buddhist art for nearly 1,300 years. Within the Sanchi Stupa complex, there are around 50 structures in totality and that includes pillars, toranas (typical gateway of Buddhist architecture), temples and monasteries. In these magnanimous structures from ancient India, the glory is still restored in the complex structures of the monument. These Buddha's honour have been included in the list of world heritage sites, by UNESCO.

Ancient History That is Still Present

Walk on the land and you will not stop gawking at the stupas that will send shiver down your spine. This is the place where the great emperor of India had once walked and this weird yet amazing feeling, of walking on the path of history is incomparable.

Sanchi Stupas at Sanchi were built during the period of 3rd century that stretched till 12th century. The major stupa of the town is the great Sanchi Stupa, that was built because of the newly aroused zealot inside King Asoka, who had then embraced Buddhism. These stupas are not dedicated to Lord Buddha, but to Buddhism. Asoka is known to have built various stupas in various parts of the country, but the Sanchi stupa here, surpasses them all. A very common pattern of the stupas will give the basis details of these stupas, that is they mainly consist of elaborate gateways, intricately carved pillars and the large hemispherical domes, that enshrines Buddhist relics.

Structures and Patterns

The stupas of Sanchi are the most wonderful remains of the antediluvian India. These acclaimed stupas will give you a feeling of deja vu. Though believed to be dedicated to Buddhism, one cannot find a single image of Buddha (founder of Buddhism) inside these stupas. Representation of Buddha was done with the use of wheels, foot prints and other symbols. King Asoka, who was a great ruler and builder, built eight stupas on the hilltop of Sanchi, after he converted into Buddhism.
The most noteworthy aspect of these stupas are the broad and ornamented gateways that display incidents from the life of lord Buddha and his incarnations of previous lives as explained by the Jataka tales (teachings of Buddha). The early stupas were mounds of earth, that were surmounted by an umbrella that was in three parts, as per the Bodhisattva teachings. A railing was usually built on the top of the stupa and a path was built around the mound, that was used for circulation. However, with the passage of time, Buddhist effigies were permitted inside the stupa and elaborately carved halos were also placed. Touch these monuments and and try to feel their age. The clean lines of the complex with elaborate carvings on the toranas and gateways will make you feel the greatness of this world heritage sites.


Staircase Leading to the Interiors of Sanchi Stupa
Staircase Leading to the Interiors of Sanchi Stupa

The Oldest and Confucian Stupa Among All

The great Sanchi stupa is the oldest surviving Buddhist remains as per the knowledge of humans. This is also the largest of all the stupas in Sanchi. The railings encompass this stupa with four intricately carved gateways. Believed to have been carved around 100 AD, these gateways depict the stories from the lives of Buddha.
This dome shaped stupa is sprawled on an area of 120 feet and rise up to a height of 54 feet (excluding the umbrella and railings). Not much of a monument, this stupa is a mimic of the funerary mound, that was build for the kings in early times. This fact is verified by the presence of the umbrella at the top of the stupa which was also a royal symbol. The four gateways are the finest work of Sanchi art and have the episodes of Buddha's life carved on them. The Sanchi stupa is also considered to be the first Buddhist stupa has it had the mortal remains of lord Buddha.

While You are at the Heritage Site

There are some spots the one should not miss while in Sanchi. The most popular stupas among them are the Great Sanchi Stupa, that is the oldest and the largest of all stupas. 36 m in diameter and 16 m high, this stupa is an epitome of the ace of the great emperor Asoka.
The Four gateways are also a must watch. Try reading the inscriptions on them , that of course if you are able to. The guides will tell you that these are the depiction of the stories related to Buddha. The eastern gateway explicate the scene from Buddha's life where, the young Gautama (Buddha) leaves his father's palace in search of enlightenment. The seven incarnations of Buddhism is explained on the western gateway, while the birth of the custodian of Buddhism, Gautama, is depicted on the southern gateway. The northern gateway on the other hand annotates the miracles that have been affiliated with Lord Buddha, as per the Jatakas.
You must see the Asoka Pillar, that lies close to the Southern gateway of the stupa. Known for its aesthetic carvings and exquisite proportions, this pillar is an example of the Greco-Buddhist style of architecture. The four lions that crown the pillar have been adopted as the national emblem of India.
Another stupa on the hills is an important monument. Observe the stone mullion that rings it. Close to the great stupa is the stupa where relics of Sariputta and Mahamogallena (Buddha's disciple) are placed. Do not miss the Great bowl, that was used to distribute the food among the monks. This colossal bowl was constructed out of a single block of stone.

Reaching the Acreage

46 kms away, Bhopal is the nearest airport, and is very well connected with the rest of the country. Vidisha (20 kms) is the nearest railhead and is connected with the major towns and cities. Bus services too are available from all the towns of the Madhya Pradesh.



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Top 5 Reasons to See Sanchi Stupas


Buddha's Statue at Sanchi Stupa

Visit the Heritage Archaic Remains
Recognised by the UNESCO as a world heritage site, these stupas are the treasure of Buddhist architecture. Built in 3rd century BC, there are around 50 stupas. Explore these stupas that were built in the age when history had just stood up on its feet.


Descry the Great Stupa
The great stupa in Sanchi is one of the best preserved stupas in the world, this mud stupa which dilapidated into ruins have embellished by the government and a result it has turned into an important Buddhist pilgrimage. Visit this stupa which boasts of housing the relics (bones and teeth) of Lord Buddha.


Embodiment of Buddha's Life
These stupas reflect the scenes from the life of Buddha. Observe the walls and the gateways of the great stupa. Try to decipher the message they are trying to convey. These carvings on these pillars and gateways are sure to flabbergast you.


The Pillar That Emblematize India
Surely visit the Asoka pillar that lies near the southern gateway of the great stupa. Observe the four headed lion that caps this pillar. An example of the Greco-Buddhist style of architecture, this is the pillar that contains the figure that is the emblem of India.


Enter Through the Gateways of History
Welcome to through the elaborate gateways that are the prime attraction of these stupas. These four gateways of the great stupa are the finest example of Sanchi architecture. Contemplate these gateways that have scenes concreted into the pillars and their ternion architraves are of avocations in the various life stages of the Buddha.


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