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The Famous Sanchi Stupa

Built during the early medieval period, Sanchi Stupa is among India's earliest stone buildings. Sanchi Stupa has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its sculptures, monuments, and lush gardens.


Sanchi is a small village near Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh's capital city. With its historic Stupas, monasteries, and wealthy Buddhist culture, the area attracts visitors worldwide. Sanchi's Great Stupa is one of the best-preserved, with its ornate gates drawing hundreds of pilgrims and travellers.


The following is a comprehensive Sanchi Stupa guide that will reveal fascinating facts about the site.




History of Sanchi

In Madhya Pradesh's Raisen district, 46 kilometres northeast of Bhopal and 8 kilometres southwest of Vidisha. The Great Stupa and the Buddhist compound atop a mountaintop are synonymous with Sanchi. The Sanchi Stupa is an early medieval historical monument that serves as the focal point of a region that includes Satdhara, Bhojpur, Sonari and several other stupas in and around Sanchi. But it is Sanchi's Great Stupa, the first of its kind, the most well-known in the region.


Emperor Ashoka created the Sanchi Stupa in the 3rd century BC, and it is one of the country's oldest stone constructions. The Sanchi stupa is a remarkable structure representing ancient Indian art and is the epitome of classic Indian stone architecture. The Great Stupa, also known as Stupa 1, was built by Ashoka and was twice the size of the current structure.


The present-day Sanchi Stupa's hemispheric superstructure has a double-diameter superstructure. This monument was built under the supervision of Ashoka's wife, Queen Devi, and their daughter Vidisha. A pillar adorned with spiral Brahmi letters representing conch shells, known as 'Shankhalipi', and an inscription depicting Ashoka's Schism Edict. The lowest half of the Sanchi Stupa architecture is still rooted, while the upper portion is protected by a canopy known as Chattra.


Read on Bhopal - Then and Now.




Sanchi Stupa's Architecture

Sanchi Stupa has a height of 54 feet and a width of 120 feet. The construction of the Sanchi stupa is a symbol of the Gupta dynasty's legacy as well as a forerunner to subsequent Indian architectural styles.


The cosmic mountain is represented by the stupa's main hemispheric body. Its spire is crowned by an umbrella-like structure called the "chhatraveli," which represents Buddhism's three jewels: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Stone balustrades encircle the stupa's base, which is at ground level. Inside the Sanchi stupa, the dome is claimed to house Buddha's remains.


Sanchi stupa's notable architectural elements include intricate stone carvings portraying Buddhist symbols, glyphs, mythological, and religious scenes.


The pillars flanking the stupa are the focal point of the building and are also historically significant. The primary Ashoka pillars, which stand on one of the four cardinal gates, are an important element of Indian culture and artistic history. It is made up of four lions who are championing a wheel of justice. The Ashokan edict is also on the pillar, along with an ornate inscription in Sankha Lipi, a Gupta script.


We urge you to take a tour around the four gateways, the Sanchi museum, Buddhist sites and the most enticing of all, the Great Bowl.

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