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"The land of the Stupas"

Sanchi Tourism

A symbol of the vast heritage present throughout the culturally rich India, the Buddhist monuments of Sanchi are one of the oldest stone structures in India. Designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO, the Great Stupa was installed in the 3rd century BC by Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty. The sculptures and monuments present at the site are a fine example of the development of Buddhist art and architecture. The stupa sits atop a hill in Sanchi, surrounded by lush gardens, providing visitors peace and serenity at this grand tribute to the peaceful religion of Buddhism.

Sanchi is a small village situated at the foot of a hill, located very close to the capital city of Bhopal. This place is known for its ancient Stupas, monasteries and other remnants of the rich Buddhist culture which date back to the 3rd century B. C. It is one of the most important places for Buddhist pilgrimage and pilgrims from around the world visit this place, especially to see Sanchi Stupa which is also a World Heritage Site. 

This large hemispherical dome, more than 50 ft high with a diameter of more than 30m was constructed to honour Lord Buddha and houses many important Buddhist relics. It is meant to serve as a sacred burial mound for the distributed remains of Lord Buddha. Being such a serene place and a hub of Buddhist culture, it is also very surprising that Lord Buddha never visited this village even once. During the reign of the Guptas, temples were built here, making this location a grand example of the harmonious coexistence of Hindu and Buddhist faiths. This historic structure has undergone a lot of development, renovation and addition since its original construction. The four ornate gateways, known as Toranas, were the last structural additions, being added in the 12th Century AD. They are meant to represent love, courage, trust, and peace. The magnificent structure attracts scores of tourists and history buffs who come to marvel at the architectural integrity of these monuments as well as gain a deeper understanding of the cultural history of India.


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Holidify's Opinion

  What's Great?

Abode to infinite Buddhist & Mauryan history. Houses the famous Sanchi Stupa.

  What's not so Great?

Can be congested in peak seasons. Not easily accessible.

For Whom

Buddhists. People interested in architecture and archaeology.

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The Land of Stupas

Sanchi is a small village situated in the foothills near Bhopal, the capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh. This village is extremely famous for being the site of countless Stupas, which house the relics of Lord Buddha. Given the popularity of this historical wonder from the Mauryan Empire, it is surprising to note that Sanchi was not even visited by Lord Buddha once. Sanchi Stupa, built in the Greco-Buddhist style, in the end of 3rd century B.C., is now a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides, there is also Ashoka Pillar, apart from the Great Bowl, which is worth visiting. So if you're into Mauryan history, don't forget to visit this site, even for once.

Architecture

Architecture

The original structure was a low structure of brick, half the diameter of the current monument. Emperor Ashoka’s consort originated from the neighbouring town of Vidisha, and the beautiful hill was immensely enchanting to him. Labourers were hired from Vidisha to construct this marvellous edifice.


Every stupa has three fundamental features:

  • The Anda, or the sacred hemispherical mound within which lies the sacred remains of Lord Buddha. The Anda in the Sanchi Stupa has a solid core and cannot be entered. Within the Anda lie the actual relics of Lord Buddha.
  • The Square railing or harmika situated in the centre marks the sacred burial site.
  • The Chattra or the large hemispherical umbrella-like structure that covers the burial site completes this magnificent structure. The Great Stupa has 3 circular umbrella disks, representative of the three jewels, or Triantha of Buddhism. These chattras are supproted by a large central pillar.

In addition to these fundamental structures, the Sanchi Stupa has additional features that add to its glory. Lord Buddha has been symbolically represented through the use of the figures like thrones, wheels and footprints among others, a unique representation of the founder of Buddhism. There are four intricately decorated gateways in the four cardinal directions, joined by a balustrade wall that encloses the entire monument. Various designs and motifs are carved on the railing and the gates of the Stupa. A sandstone pillar, inscribed with Schism Edict by Ashoka can be found at the site. An ornate spiral from the Gupta period, with Brahmi characters resembling conch shells, referred to as ‘Shankhalipi’ or ‘shell-script’, was later installed at the location.

Being around for a couple of millenia, this fascinating structure has stood the ravages of time and war that have affected the land. The stone casing, porch with a double flight of steps, balustrades, a processional path, an umbrella and railing, all built of sandstone, were added in the 2nd century BC. The stone encasing holds the original brick foundation of the monument. The original carvings of the structures depict the life of Buddha, which have been blended well with carvings of the various classical periods of India. The lion, a sign of Buddha, is carved into various locations. The overall architecture is meant to represent the various tenets of the Buddhist faith, with each of the carvings narrating their own tale.

Interesting Facts About Sanchi Stupa

  • The Sanchi Stupa was constructed in the honour of Lord Buddha by Emperor Ashoka in 3rd century BC
  • The height of the Great Stupa is around 54 feet
  • Most of the Buddha statues at the Sanchi Stupa were said to be painted with a legendary Mauryan polish that made them shine like glass in the erstwhile days
  • The Stupa actually symbolises the life of Buddha and his final release from the cycle of birth and rebirth (Moksha)
  • The last addition to the Stupa was done during the rule of the Guptas, prior to 450 AD
  • The Stupa is surrounded by four gateways that represent various scenes from the life of Lord Buddha and the Jataka Tales
  • The national emblem of India was derived from the Ashoka Pillar of Sanchi Stupa.
  • Sanchi Stupa is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Entry Fee

Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh

Indian citizens, visitors of SAARC and BIMSTEC nations (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan, Thailand, Myanmar) is INR 30 Foreigners (other): INR 500 Free for children up to 15 years of age.

Timings

8:30 AM - 5:30 PM

Sanchi does not have too many elaborate eating places or delicacies that stand out. However, the town does foster a subtle variety and the few eating joints available here offer decent North Indian, South Indian, Chinese and Continental dishes. The local delicacies of Madhya Pradesh that you might chance upon here include Dal Bafla, Biryani, Kebabs, Korma, Poha, Rogan Josh, Jalebi, Ladoos as well as beverages like Lassi and Sugarcane Juice.


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Latest questions by travellers on Sanchi

Answer: The Sanchi Stupa is open to the public from 7 am to 7 pm, or sunrise to sunset, depending on the seasons.


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