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Sanchi, located at an hour’s drive from Bhopal, hosts historically one of the most important monuments of India, the Great Stupa commissioned by Ashoka, the Great. Although the monument itself does not make a spectacular site as compared to some of the other monuments in India, and also does not attract hoards of tourists, it is unmistakably significant in terms of history and heritage. It demonstrates the great emblem and the message of truth and honor given by Ashoka that became the national identity of India. It is also one of the most important religious places of Buddhism and attracts flocks of Buddhists traveling from all over India, Sri Lanka and other parts of the world.

 

The large yet simple monument of the Great Stupa is perched atop a modest hill in the small village of Sanchi, situated nearly 46 kilometers from Bhopal. The place itself is also known by the name Sanchi Stupa. This eminent testimonial to love, peace, courage and trust, a structure with ancient, historical carvings has several relics and articles of historical importance around it. Though the central Stupa was built by emperor Ashoka, some other kings added to the place over the next few centuries. As Hinduism began to rise in India, the Stupa slowly went in oblivion, until it was re-discovered by the British Officer, General Taylor, in 1818. Over this long period of nearly 2100 years, particularly during the early centuries, the Stupa showed signs of having been destroyed partially or completely and then being rebuilt and restored. The last restoration took place around late 19th and early 20th century, nearly hundred years after the re-discovery of the monument.

 

The central hemispherical dome of the Stupa was built in bricks in 3rd century BCE by emperor Ashoka. The epitome of peace and love, the great King was once a callous and spiteful figure, who attacked and destroyed the kingdom of Kalinga. The war ended in Ashoka observing the piles of dead bodies he had been the sole reason for. The grasping of the terrible loss of humanity he had brought upon the earth, transformed Chand Ashoka, or Ashoka the Fierce, into one of the greatest messengers of peace and Buddhism. During his spread of Buddhism in wide regions that stretched as far as Sri Lanka down South and up to Egypt in West, Ashoka built the Great Stupa of Sanchi.

 

The Stupa was built upon the relics of Buddha. Although it has not been confirmed with proof, the relics of two of the direct disciples of Buddha have been found here. The simple dome built in bricks, 120 feet high, has been topped by a square, in the centre of which are the three superimposed umbrellas, the symbol of dharma. One can take the stairways to climb up the middle portion of the Stupa and take the circular round. This small walk provides a view of the relics around the site and the ancient Buddhist monastery located a few hundred meters down the hill at the feet of the Stupa.

 

There are detailed carvings and inscriptions on the four gateways to the Stupa. These gateways, referred to as Toranas, are the fine masterpiece in Buddhist architecture. The gateways were constructed almost two centuries after the Stupa was built. They are identified as Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Gateways. The gateways depict various tales from Jataka. As was the custom during the Mahayana phase of Buddhism, the statue of Buddha has not been displayed anywhere, but he has been represented through various symbols such as the lotus, the Bodhi tree, the wheel, his footprints and his throne.

 

The Southern Gateway displays the four lions sitting back to back, only three of which can be viewed at once. This is the symbol of the national emblem of India. The message associated with it, ‘truth alone triumphs’, or ‘satyameva jayate’, became the national slogan of India.

 

Several artifacts gathered from the site of Sanchi Stupa have been exhibited in the Archeological Museum. The ticket to the Stupa also covers a visit to the museum. There are many more small stupas on the hill along with the pillars constructed by Ashoka, of which only one survives today.

 

A trip to Sanchi can be planned on the way to Bhopal. Vidisha, a small town ten kilometers from Sanchi with some other historical attractions can be clubbed with this visit. The best time to visit the Stupa is around sunrise and sunset. The ticket should be bought the previous day if you plan a visit during sunrise.


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A Short Trip to Sanchi - by Ritu Dated : 2011-08-23
I and my group of friends had visited Sanchi on our way to Bhopal from Jhansi. It was a great experience. The Stupa deserved more than the three hours, only the period of time which we could spare on our way. No matter the time, it was a spiritually enlightening experience for all of us.

As we walked to the site, we could the eternal peace that place holds, the large dome shaped Stupa caught our eyes. It was built by Emperor Asoka, to honor the Buddha, the enlightened one. It dates back to the 2nd century B.C. The Stupa has four grand gates, they are called the Toranas. These Toranas are intricately carved with the stories of the life of the Buddha. Hiring a guide might be spoilers because government authorized guides do not seem to be good at their jobs.

The Archaeological Survey of India has its restoration work in progress so as to conserve the oldest of the relics that relate to the period of 2nd century B.C. There is also a museum on the way to Sanchi that displays rare collection of pieces of earliest artwork, found when this site at Sanchi was excavated. It is advised not to miss this place when going to Sanchi.

We loved the atmosphere at Sanchi, it soothed our souls to a great level and we were proud that we had stopped at this place to seek the blessings of Buddha. This place is a must visit place when in Madhya Pradesh, it may take your breath away.
Sanchi - by  Tusshar Kamble Dated : 2011-08-22
One of the many World Heritage Sites in India is Sanchi, situated in the heart of India, the state of Madhya Pradesh. The major attractions of this place are the serene group of Stupas (large reliquary shrines that are shaped like mounds), monasteries and some temple ruins on a hilltop. The world famous domed Stupa was built in the 2nd century BC. It replaced a damaged brick Stupa built by Mauryan Emperor Asoka.

En route to Bhopal from Vidisha, Sanchi lies just 20 kilometers away from Vidisha. Every year thousands of tourists throng this place, since it is an important religious destination for the Buddhists. . One must spend an entire day admiring the fine architecture of the main Stupa, and study the facade from East, West, North and South where different aspects from the Life of The Buddha, from birth to attainment of Nirvana have been depicted. The Asoka pillar with the National symbol of India should be proudly studied, and do not miss the museum with various relics from the period of Buddhism and from the reigns of Kings who patronized the religion. The Archaeological Survey of India Museum displays some of India's earliest known artworks, found during excavation of the site, including the superb capital from the Ashoka Pillar by the south gate. Restoration and excavation are ongoing.


Sanchi, a Serene City - by Lokesh Bhatt  Dated : 2011-04-11
The Sanchi stupa has 4 gates near it. The inscriptions on all the gates are in Hindi, except the inscription on the north gate. These inscriptions are nothing but the interpretation or the keys of what is depicted on the gates. I feel that all these inscriptions near the gates, should be in English as the stupa and the gates are a place of great tourist attraction.

The stupa, gates and temple are very well maintained. Even the premises near the monuments are very well maintained. The stupa is the main place of tourist attraction in Sanchi. The north, south, east and west gates near the stupa are also beautiful.

There is a zoo in the premises of the stupa, which I found interesting. The Ganga Jamuna temple is also found in Sanchi. This temple was once very grand, but now only its remnants can be seen.
There is a small stupa near the big Sanchi stupa, which is cute, but it is completely over shadowed by the larger stupa, but the smaller stupa has an interesting gate. The gate has the emblem of the Republic of India and thus the gate is famous.

There are a lot of tourists who visit Sanchi to see the various monuments there, but the good thing is that in spite of all this there is no defacing of the monuments in any way.
Sanchi, a Historic City - by Kiran Bagga  Dated : 2011-04-11
The north gate near th3e Sanchi stupa is the most well preserved of the gates near the stupa. There are 4 gates near the Sanchi stupa. These are the north gate, south gate, east gate and west gate.

There are images of a haloed Buddha, sitting under a pillared canopy near the gates. These images date back to the Gupta rule in the 5 century AD. The archaeological survey of India has displayed various pieces of artwork. This museum is located at a place, just before the entrance to Sanchi.

The various pieces of artwork, placed in the museum, were found during the excavation of the site in Sanchi. If you visit Sanchi, you will realize that the restoration and excavation of the site is still going on.

If you visit Sanchi, you should dedicate a full day to the study of the Sanchi stupa. There are several scenes depicted near the north, south, east and west gates of the stupa. These scenes are the various stages of the life of the Buddha, from birth till the time he attained nirvana.

The famous Ashoka pillar is also located near the stupa. This pillar contains the National symbol of India and is thus very popular. It’s is a symbol of great national pride.
The stupas and temples at Sanchi are an architectural wonder and thus are a huge study material for all modern day architects.
Sanchi, a Breathtakingly Beautiful Place - by Bhusahn Kher  Dated : 2011-04-11
Sanchi is a place in India which is an all important Buddhist place and is also a world heritage site. Sanchi is a peaceful place which consists of Buddhist stupas, monasteries and temple ruins. All these ruins are found on a hilltop in Sanchi.

Sanchi also has a famous domed stupa which was built in the 2nd century BC, over a damaged brick stupa. This damaged brick stupa was built a century earlier, by Emperor Ashoka. This domed stupa has 4 gates, which open into the ground level. Buddhists used to enter these gates, so that they could go about the stupa.

The gates are beautifully carved and they consist of stories of the Buddha and erotic scenes, which are contrary to Buddhism. These gates were built in the 1st century BC.

I am a resident of Bhopal and I have always known that it takes 2 ½ hours by road, to reach Sanchi from Bhopal. I had always wanted to visit Sanchi, but never got a chance until my relatives came down from Mumbai. They had heard a lot about the stupa and thus we set out for Sanchi by car.

There is information given near the stupas, which says that the western gate has been sculpted by ivory sculptors. This explains the exquisite sculpting done on the western gate.
Thus the stupa in Sanchi is a sight to behold.