Sanchi Stupa (Sanci) is a Buddhist complex famous for its Great Stupa. Sanchi Stupa is established on a hilltop at Sanchi Town. It is located in Raisen District of the State of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is only 46 kilometres north-east of Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh. The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India and was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. The construction work of stupa was overseen by Ashoka, was the daughter of a merchant of nearby Vidisha. Sanchi was birthplace of Ashoka’s wife Devi. The Sanchi Stupa built during Mauryan period.
Sanchi Stupa is an ancient monument that shows the records of the origins of Buddhist architecture and culture. Covering the entire range of Buddhism in India, it reflects a wonderful evidence of varied artistic works of Buddhist monks. The place was destined to become one of the significant centers of Buddhism which is not only loved and worshipped by Indian people but also by individuals across the globe. The foundation of this place was laid by Emperor Ashoka and it has gone on to become an important historic monument for India.
This pillar was put up in the 3rd century and its structure is influenced by the Greco Buddhist style. A remnant of Sanchi’s ancient history, this pillar still stands strong and appears newly built despite being centuries old. It also resembles the Sarnath pillar a lot.
The Great Bowl
Amongst the various historical monuments which stand tall in Sanchi after centuries of being constructed, the Great Bowl or the Grand Gumbha is a large block of stone which was used to distribute food and other things to Buddhist Monks.
Udayagiri, means the ‘sunrise mountain’. Udayagiri and Vidisha were a Buddhist and Bhagavata site by the 2nd century BCE as evidenced by the Heliodorus pillar. While the Heliodorus pillar has been preserved, others have survived in ruins. Buddhism was prominent in Sanchi, near Udayagiri, in the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE. According to Dass and Willis, recent archaeological evidence such as the Udayagiri Lion Capital suggests that there was a Sun Temple at Udayagiri. The Surya tradition in Udayagiri dates at least from the 2nd century BCE, and possibly one that predated the arrival of Buddhism. It is this tradition that gives it the ‘sunrise mountain’ name. The town is referred to as Udaygiri or Udaigiri in some texts. The site is also referred to as Visnupadagiri, as in inscriptions at the site. The term means the hill at “the feet of Vishnu’
Sanchi museum have 4 galleries and one large central hall. Here variety of sculptural artefacts have been showcased for public view. These articles are from Sanchi and its nearby Buddhist and Hindu sites like Vidisha, Gyraspur, Murelkhurd etc. Among them most well known exhibit in the Sanchi museum is the Ashokan capital displayed in main hall. This piece of sculpture shows four-lions seated back-to-back and once topped Pillar No.-10 in Sanchi. It reminds us of lion capital of Sarnath. This image of four-lion is taken as national emblem of India. Apart from this, other Sanchi museum attractions are massive Nagaraja from Sunga dynasty from 2nd century, a yakshi from 1st century BC, meditating Buddha from 7th century AD and much more. While visiting Sanchi stupas, visit to ASI museum is highly recommended to visitors. It will help us to better understand the glorious past of this region.
How to Reach
By Air or rail to Bhopal which is well-connected with many other cities of India and then by road to Sanchi by bus, cabs and private cars provided by different tour operators. Sanchi can also be reached by road from Vidisha (10 km) and Indore (232 km).