Located in a serene backcloth, at a distance of 46 km from Bhopal, Sanchi is a little hamlet in Madhya Pradesh. The place is a treasure trove of ancient Buddhist architectural gems that deck its landscape in the form of monasteries, stupas, chaityas, temples and gateways. These antique relics, belonging from 3rd century BC to 12th century AD, are legacies of the heydays of Emperor Ashoka. The preponderance of Buddhism, in the form of its artwork, makes the place an important religious site of the Buddhists. This article will help you to unearth information on the various places to see in Sanchi and find out what its major tourist attractions are.
These large hemispherical domes of Sanchi contain the relics of Buddha
and demonstrate the artistic prowess of the Buddhist monks. Their
structural magnificence and meticulousness are akin to the precision
that are required by delicate jewelry. Owing to their splendid
architectural trimmings, these stupas have been declared as a World
Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Great Stupa I or Ashoka's stupa is one of the major hallmarks of
Sanchi. Ashoka Pillar lies close to the Southern Gateway of this Great
Stupa. It was erected during 3rd century BC and majestically stands with
its four lion head stump. Though the structure is quite similar to the
famous carved pillar in Sarnath, it doesn't support a 'Wheel of Law'
Gateways of Sanchi
The four 'Toranas' or Gateways (Eastern, Western, Northern and
Southern) of Sanchi are a vivid description of Buddhist architectural
geniuses. These ornamental gateways face the cardinal directions and
capture the various phases of Buddha's life. They are carved with
various symbolic representations, pertaining to the life, enlightenment,
death and various incarnations of Buddha.
Buddhist Vihara enshrines the sacred relics of the Satdhara Stupa. They
are placed inside a glass coffer, on a platform of the inner sanctum of
this modern monastery. This Vihara is located a few kilometers from
Sanchi and is a famous religious site of the Buddhists. It serves as a
house of residence for the monks, who pursue religious studies here.
The Great Bowl
The Great Bowl of Sanchi is one of the major historical landmarks of
the place. Excavations have credited the fact that this bowl was shaped
from a single rock structure of enormous volume. During the early days,
it was used to distribute food among Buddhist monks. The historical
connotations invested on this monolithic boulder make it a popular
attraction amongst the tourists.
The Gupta Dynasty, which ushered in a new era in the field of
temple-architecture, has bestowed Sanchi with its trademark in the form
of the famous Gupta Temple. This temple is located amidst the ruins of
the Temple 17 of Sanchi and bears testimony to the aesthetic sense of
proportion and balance shown by the artisans of the Gupta period.
At Sanchi, there is a museum of the Archeological Survey of India that
acts as a storehouse of many antique chattels and specimens. The museum
has one main hall and four galleries. Valuable objects, excavated from
different sites that are as old as 2000 yrs, are exhibited in this
museum. The museum gives a glimpse of the lives and artwork of different
dynasties. One of the notable specimens being displayed is the lion
capital of the Ashoka Pillar in the main hall.