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Sanchi is a historical and Buddhist spiritual destination of prime importance that boasts of some of the most remarkable structures of ancient Buddhist art and architecture. Sanchi represents a world heritage site acknowledged by UNESCO. Sanchi Stupa, ancient temples and pillars are major attractions for Buddhist pilgrims and other tourists.

Situated in the Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh and nearly 10 km from Vidisha, the village of Sanchi is one of the major centers of Buddhist pilgrimage and is known  worldwide for Sanchi Stupa. Historical evidence suggests that Sanchi has several monuments that were built between 3rd century BC - 12th century AD; these distinctively exhibit early Buddhist art and architecture.
Sanchi has nearly fifty monuments that include three stupas and several temples which have been listed as world heritage sites of UNESCO since 1989. The huge Sanchi Stupa situated on a hilltop and visible from several kilometers away.
Displaying significant architectural structures dating back to the Mauryan Period, Sanchi has a long historical and religious background. It was emperor Ashoka who commenced a religious center at Sanchi. Ashoka’s queen Devi was the daughter of a merchant belonging to Vidisha which is near Sanchi. Ashoka propagated Buddhism by spreading the mortal remains and the teachings of Lord Buddha all over the world and by constructing the Stupa; this stupa was built in memory of Buddha and is the largest in Sanchi. In ancient times Sanchi was also known by several names like Kakanaya, Kakanava, Kakanadabota and Bota-Sriparvata.
In 1818, General Taylor, a British Officer , discovered the ruins of the Stupa and other monuments at Sanchi. Captain Johnson, another British officer, is credited for excavating the western portion of the Stupa in 1822. In 1851 Alexander Cunningham and Captain FC Maisay discovered a relic casket.
Although the discovery of the huge Stupa can be attributed to several British officers, it was under the leadership of Sir John Marshall, director general of Archaeological Survey of India during 1912-1919 that the various pieces of the Stupa were finally assembled.
While visiting Sanchi and discovering the early Buddhist monuments, you should remember the following: Lord Buddha was depicted through different symbols.
A lotus symbolizes birth; A Bo Tree signifies enlightenment; The Wheel of Law is a symbol of preaching;  Stupas represent death..
Footprints, an empty throne, a Stupa, a tree, or a wheel are all representation of Buddha and his principles.
The earliest monuments here are fine examples of architecture and religion of the period. The backdrop of green hills around the Stupas, pillars, temples and monasteries provides a perfect setting for spiritual ambience. The Stupas are huge hemispherical domes and contain the relics of Buddha, characteristically belonging to the era of Buddhist expansion. One can easily relive the period and understand its importance through these structures. If you’re looking for solace and tranquillity, this is the place to visit.

Stupa 1
The primary monument of Sanchi, Stupa 1, is the largest structure and consists of a massive sandstone mound surrounded by porticoes with sandstone railings. Stupas are one of the characteristic symbols of Buddhism; they house the remnants of Buddha and are holy shrines. The Stupas are also associated with the final release from the cycle of birth and rebirth according to the Parinirvana or the Final Dying. This Stupa, built by emperor Ashoka, is situated on a hill is nearly 91 m high and surrounded by trees. It depicts an important era in the evolution of Indian history and architecture. The Stupa is 36.5 m in diameter and almost 16.5 m high. A continuous series of balustrades encircle the structure. The major attractions of the structure are its four monumental gateways or Torana, that form the entrances to the Stupa. The southern, northern, eastern and western gateways are fine examples of art and architecture. Finely carved gateways are in line with the four cardinal points and point to the four directions. The gateways were added in the first century BC starting with the southern gateway, followed by the northern, eastern and western gateways. Each gateway has two square pillars which are 34 feet in height and are coroneted with four lions, elephants or pot bellied dwarfs. It also has three entablatures that are spirally rolled at the ends. The surfaces of the gateways are decorated with finely carved scenes from Jatakas and the life of Gautama Buddha. The image of the Ashoka lions, as seen on these pillars, was adopted as the official seal of India.
Stupa 2 and 3
Stupa 2: This Stupa is situated at the edge of the hill and was constructed around the 2nd century BC. The most important feature of this ancient Stupa is the stone balustrade surrounding it. Stupa 3: The hemispherical structure of Stupa 3 is situated nearly 45 m northeast of Stupa 1. Stupa 3 is smaller in dimension compared to Stupa 1 and is coroneted by a single umbrella shaped canopy. Historically this Stupa has been extremely important, since it holds the relics of Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, the two leading disciples of Lord Buddha.
Ashokan Pillar
Located to the right of the southern gateway of Stupa 1, the pillar was erected by the King Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. A monolithic structure with definite proportions and polished surface, the pillar is decorated with four lion heads on the top. Although centuries old, this pillar still maintains its metallic glow. It is quite similar to the pillar at Sarnath, but the Wheel of Law or the Dharmachakra is devoid here. The crown of the pillar is exhibited at the museum whereas the shaft itself still stands in its original place. This pillar is regarded as an archaeological wonder of historical times. The lions depicted here have become a template for one of India’s national symbols.
Gupta Temple: This temple belongs to the 4th century AD and is the earliest example of Indian temple architecture. Although in ruins, it still transports you to ancient times and the living patterns that existed during that era. The structure of the temple is very basic comprising only of a chamber with a flat roof and a pillared porch in front. Temple 18 Built in the 7th century A.D the temple is located in front of the southern gateway of Stupa 1. Its main structure is a Chaitya Hall, which highly resembles the rock cut Chaitya halls of the Karla Caves in Maharashtra. Temple 45 This temple was constructed somewhere between the 7th - 11th century and displays a intricate level of architecture. The major characteristic of this structure is the carved statue of Buddha at the entrance of the temple.
Monastery 51
This monastery is located to the west of the great Stupa and has twenty-two small rooms that surround a central courtyard. The monastery has been maintained in good condition and vividly displays the living quarters of monks during the period of its construction and use.
Great Bowl
Just next to the monastery is a great bowl, believed to have been carved out of a single, gigantic stone. Legend has it, that the bowl was used to distribute food amongst the monks.
The Archeological Museum at Sanchi is one of the most interesting sites for history lovers, as it displays some of important exhibits like the “lion” of the original Ashoka pillar, ancient statues of lord Buddha, Bodhisattvas and objects used by monks during that period.
Nearby places Train stations Airports
BHOPAL 79 Km 01H 20m
Bhopal Junction 69 Km 01H 06m
Vidisha 9 Km 00H 10m
Nearby major cities
Name Distance Duration
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Best Seasons
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Season Min. Temp. Max. Temp.
Summer 25 °C 45 °C
Winter 10 °C 24 °C
Summers are hot and humid with mercury shooting to a unbearable 45°C. Pleasant winters (October - March ) is the best time to visit.

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Seasons Flavour

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