Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi


About

The Buddhist monuments at Sanchi display the Buddhist art and architecture in the form of stupas, monasteries and holy shrines of the Buddha. These are included in the list of World Heritage Sites by the UNESCO.

The Sanchi Stupa, the second-largest stupa, is the principal monument built to depict the life of Buddha. It is an attractive monument and is known to be the oldest stone structure in India. It exhibits a certain perfection in the skills of inscription, evident on the four doorways of the monument.

The stupas have the relics of the Buddha and his teachings that are beautifully carved on pillars and columns. It was in 1818, when the monuments at Sanchi completed over 600 years, that the Buddhist monuments were rediscovered.

Sanchi has been famous as the pilgrimage place of the Buddhist followers and was known as Kakanava, Kakanaya, or Bota-Sriparvata during the Mauryan period. It is a village that comprises Buddhist monuments and is now ranked as one of the important heritage sites of India. Here you can see the finest Buddhist architecture.

History

Of the Buddhist monuments at Sanchi, the Great Stupa was built as a tribute to the Buddha. It was primitively a low-height construction of brick, with half of the diameter of the current structure. Earlier it was bounded by a railing made of wood and has an umbrella made of stone at the top.

Sanchi has been embellished with various monuments that were built from 3rd century BC to 12th century AD. Sanchi was full of life around 283 BCE and was also known as Vidishagiri, a famous place during the period of Emperor Ashoka. Ashoka is well known for his conversion to Buddhism.

The city was a rich hub, filled with affluent merchants. It was the patronage of these merchants that made Sanchi what it is today. It is also said that although the monuments in Sanchi were started by Ashoka, the whole place was overseen by the wife of Emperor Ashoka, who looked after the rich works of art and completed the set. However, in the 12th century, there was a decline of Buddhism, which led to the destruction of these monuments. The present-day glory was restored by the British General Taylor in 1818. Restoration of the site was done in 1912 by Marshall and completed in 1989.

Location

These Buddhist monuments are situated at the Sanchi town in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh. The site is 10 km from Vidisha and around 46 km to the northeast of Bhopal. The coordinates are 23 degrees 28'50" North and 77 degrees 44'11" East. The place sits proudly on a hilltop.

Monuments of Sanchi

The Buddhist monuments in Sanchi are all made of stone. The structures are huge and intricately designed.
  • The main stupa is covered with railing and comprises four carved gateways that face the four directions. In the Sanchi Stupa you can see the footprints of the Buddha, and other symbols like the lotus, wheels and thrones. The great stupa is in the shape of a hemisphere and has a diameter of 36.5 metres and has a height of 16.5 metres.
  • In Sanchi emphasis has been given to the symbolic form of the Buddha, and not his image.
  • The gateways are very attractive and here you can see ornamented depiction of events that took place in the life of the Buddha.
  • On top of all the stupas there is a chhatra crowning the monument, which stores the relics of Buddhism.
  • The Great Stupa has statues of Lord Buddha in the shelters made in front of the four entrances.
  • The Ashoka Pillar is a grand attraction. It has four lions on it and warns against schism.
  • The Great Bowl, a mammoth bowl, is made of one single stone and was used to serve food to the monks living here.
Opening timing

The heritage site is open to the public every day of the week. The timings are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The best time to visit is during the winter season, when the weather is pleasant. That is, you can visit from November to March.

Entrance fee

The entrance fee for Indians as well as for people from the SAARC nations is Rs. 10 per head, and for other nations it is Rs. 250 per head. Children up to 15 years are exempted from entry fee.

Where to stay

Sanchi is a small place, so you will not be able to find many kinds of accommodation here. However, you can book your room in The Residency Hotel, The Gateway Retreat, or Hotel Sambodi, which are good options for staying.

If you need more options, you can opt for Bhopal, which is close by and is a large cosmopolitan city.

How to reach

It is easy to reach Sanchi as it is only a few kilometers from the capital of Madhya Pradesh. You can opt for railways, roadways or even airways for a convenient travel.
  • By road: Sanchi is well connected with roads from various cities like Vidisha, Bhopal and Indore. You can get a bus ride or a taxi from any of these places to reach Sanchi. There are private as well as government-owned buses to reach the city.
  • By train: The railway station is located in Bhopal, connecting it well to the rest of the country. Thus, reaching Bhopal from any of the major cities is not a problem.
  • By air: Bhopal has a domestic airport named Raja Bhoj Airport, and here you can find regular flights to various parts of the country. Many airlines here connect Bhopal to other major cities like Mumbai and Delhi. Besides, Air India offers international flight from Bhopal to Dubai.


Last Updated on : December 31, 2013

     


     

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