The Great Sanchi Stupa

Sunday, May 4, 20081comments

Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh:




The Great Sanchi Stupa: Sanchi is a world Heritage site.It is a small village in Raisen District of India. Nearest Airport is 46 km in Bhopal. Best way to reach there through taxi or bus from Bhopal. Best time to go Sanchi is between August and December.

The 'Great Stupa' at Sanchi was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka the Great in the third century BC. Its nucleus was a simple hemispherical brick structure built over the relics of the Buddha. It was crowned by the chatra, a parasol-like structure symbolising high rank, which was intended to honour and shelter the relics.

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The ruins of Sanchi Sanchi, variously known as Kakanaya, Kakanava, Kakanadabota and Bota-Sriparvata in ancient times, has a singular distinction of having remarkable specimen of Buddhist art and architecture right from the early Mauryan period (c. third century BC to twelfth century AD). Sanchi is famous in the world for stupas, monolithic Asokan pillar, temples, monasteries and sculptural wealth.It was Emperor Asoka who laid the foundations of a religious centre at Sanchi fascinated probably by the location of the hill or because of his Queen Devi, who was the daughter of a merchant of Vidisha. He erected the Great Stupa (Stupa 1) here after redistribution of mortal remains of Lord Buddha for erecting several stupas all over the country in order to spread Buddhism. This stupa was originally a low structure of brick, half the diameter of the present edifice hemispherical in shape with raised terraces at the base. It was enclosed by a wooden railing and a stone umbrella at the top. This Great Stupa served as a nucleus to the large Buddhist establishment during the later period.During Sunga times, several edifices were raised at Sanchi and its surrounding hills. The Asokan stupa was enlarged and faced with stones and decorated with balustrades, staircases and a harmika on the top.In the first century BC the Andhra-Satavahanas, who had extended their sway over the eastern Malwa, caused the elaborately carved gateways to Stupa 1. The Great Stupa of Sanchi displays an austere grandeur and the exquisite carvings of the doorway depict in detail the significant episodes and miracles from Lord Buddha’s life and events depicted in the Buddhist Jataka stories.The reconstruction of Temple 40 and erection of Stupas 2 and 3 also seem to date back around the same time.From the second to fourth century AD Sanchi and Vidisha came under the Kushanas and Kshatrapas and subsequently passed on to the hands of the Guptas. During the Gupta period some temples were also built and sculptures were added displaying the classical grace and simplicity of the era. Further, statues of Lord Buddha seated in the canopies facing the four entrances of the Great Stupa were also added. Sanchi also flourished during the 7th – 12th centuries A.D. when shrines and monasteries were continued to be added. Thus Sanchi displays harmonious co-existence of Hindu and Buddhist faiths.Since the fourteenth century Sanchi remained deserted and uncared for till 1818 when General Taylor rediscovered the site. Sir John Marshall established an archaeological museum in 1919, which was later transformed into the present site museum at Sanchi.Presently under an UNESCO project Sanchi and Satdhara, a Buddhist site, 10 km south-east of Sanchi, is being further excavated, conserved and environmentally developed.Sanchi is a peaceful hill crowned by a group of stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from 3rd century BC to 12th century AD. The glory that was Sanchi, an ancient place of pilgrimage, can still be experienced in its complex structures where many Buddhist legends found expression in the rich sculpture. The Buddha is not represented through figures at Sanchi, but through symbols, as was the tradition in the early period of Buddhism. The lotus represents the Buddha's birth, the tree signifies his enlightenment, and the wheel represents his nirvana or salvation. The footprints and the throne denote the Buddha's presence. Sanchi was virtually forgotten after the 13th Century until 1818, when General Taylor, a British Officer rediscovered it, half buried and well preserved. Later in 1912, Sir John Marshal, Director General of Archeology ordered the restoration work at the site. Some of the important monuments in Sanchi are: - The Great Stupa No.1- 36.5mts in diameter and 16.4 mts high it is one of the oldest stone structures in India. With a massive hemispherical dome, the stupa stands majestically. The paved procession path around it has become smooth by centuries of pilgrim's visit. Built originally as an earthen stupa by the Emperor Ashoka, it was rebuilt in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. The last of the additions to this remarkable stupa are the elaborate and richly carved four gateways or Toranas. The first of the four gateways to be erected was the one at the Southern Entrance, followed, in chronological order by the Northern, the Eastern and the Western Gateways. The Southern Gateway: Reveals the birth of Gautum in a series of dramatically rich carvings. The southern Gateway: crowned by a wheel of law, illustrates the miracle associated with the Buddha as told in the Jataka tales. The Eastern Gateway, depicts the young prince, Gautam, leaving his father's place, renouncing worldly life to seek enlightenment .The inner face of the right pillar portrays the dream of Maya, the mother of Buddha, when she conceived him. The Western Gateway depicts the Seven incarnations of the Buddha, four represented by trees and three by stupas; the Buddha preaching his first sermon at the Deer Park, Sarnath and the Chhaddanta Jataka tale. Stupa No. 2, dating back to the 2nd Century BC, stands at the very edge of the hill and its most striking feature is the stone balustrade that surrounds it. Stupa No.3 situated northeast of the Great Stupa is where the relics of Sariputra and Mahamogalana, the two famous disciples of the Buddha were found in its inner most chambers. The hemispherical dome is crowned, as a mark of its special religious significance, with an umbrella of polished stone. It has only one gateway. This structure belongs to the period between 150-140 BC. Ashoka Pillar, with its four lion head stump, erected during the 3rd Century BC, is situated close to the Southern Gateway of the Great Stupa. Though, similar to the intricately carved pillar in Sarnath, the lions did not support a "Wheel of Law" (Dharmachakra). A unique feature of this pillar is its brilliant polish. The Gupta Temple (4th Century AD), in ruins now, is one of the earliest known examples of temple architecture in India. It consists of a simple flat roofed chamber with a pillared porch in front. Temple 18, a Chaitya Hall, situated in front of the Southern Gateway of the Great Stupa is comparatively recent (around 7th Century A.D.) resembles the rock-cut Chaitya halls at Karla Caves in Maharashtra. The Monastery and Temple 45, built between the 7th and 11th Centuries, show more developed styles of architecture. On the ornamental doorway here, one can see the image of Buddha with an oval Halo. The Great Bowl, carved out of one block of stone, contained food that was distributed amongst the monks of Sanchi. The Archaeological Survey of India Museum, situated at the entrance to the monument, exhibits findings and remains of the excavated site. Among these are caskets, pottery, and parts of gateways, lion capital of the Ashokan Pillar and images. The Hill of Sanchi is Situated about 9 K.M. South-West of Vidisha in Madhya pradesh, India. Crowning the hilltop of Sanchi nearly 91 metres in height,a group of Buddhist monument commands a grand view even from a distance. It is unique not only in its having the most perfect and well-preserved stupas but also in its offering a wide and educative field for the genesis, efflorescence and decay of Buddhist art and architecture for a period of about thirteen hundred years, from the third century B.C. to the twelfth century, A.D. almost covering the whole range of India Buddhism, Hiuen Tsang who so meticulously recorded the details connected with Buddhist monument silent about it The only possible reference to it is contained in the chronicles of Sri . Lanka, according to which Mahendra son, sanghmitra daughter of Ashoka and his Queen Devi, daughter of a Merchant of Vidisha, Whom Ashoka had married, Mahendra and Sanghmitra set out for Sri Lanka as Missionaries.Nearest airport is at Bhopal ( 46 km via Diwanganj and 78 km via Raisen) which is connected with Delhi, Mumbai, Jabalpur, Gwalior and Indore.2. Sanchi lies on the Jhansi-Itarsi section of the Central railways. However, the most convenient railheads are Vidisha (10 km) & Bhopal (46 km).3. Good, motorable roads connect Sanchi with Bhopal, Indore Sagar, Gwalior, Vidisha and Raisen, besides other places.Tourist InformationOpen on all weekdays from sunrise to sunset. Entry fee for those above 12 years: Rs. 5.00. Free entry on Fridays. Best time to visitNovember to February AccessLocated in Madhya Pradesh, Sanchi is connected to Bhopal. By road which is 46 kilometers away via Diwanganj and 78 kilometers away via Raisen. To get to this site one must reach Bhopal, which is well connected by air, rail and road to Delhi, Mumbai, Gwalior and Indore, and thereafter use the motorable road to Sanchi. Where to staySri Lanka Mahabodhi society Rest House, Travelers Lodge; Buddhist guesthouse, Circuit House.




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Raj
May 21, 2008 at 2:31 PM

Sanchi
The ruins of Sanchi




Sanchi, variously known as Kakanaya, Kakanava, Kakanadabota and Bota-Sriparvata in ancient times, has a singular distinction of having remarkable specimen of Buddhist art and architecture right from the early Mauryan period (c. third century BC to twelfth century AD). Sanchi is famous in the world for stupas, monolithic Asokan pillar, temples, monasteries and sculptural wealth.
It was Emperor Asoka who laid the foundations of a religious centre at Sanchi fascinated probably by the location of the hill or because of his Queen Devi, who was the daughter of a merchant of Vidisha. He erected the Great Stupa (Stupa 1) here after redistribution of mortal remains of Lord Buddha for erecting several stupas all over the country in order to spread Buddhism. This stupa was originally a low structure of brick, half the diameter of the present edifice hemispherical in shape with raised terraces at the base. It was enclosed by a wooden railing and a stone umbrella at the top. This Great Stupa served as a nucleus to the large Buddhist establishment during the later period.
During Sunga times, several edifices were raised at Sanchi and its surrounding hills. The Asokan stupa was enlarged and faced with stones and decorated with balustrades, staircases and a harmika on the top.
In the first century BC the Andhra-Satavahanas, who had extended their sway over the eastern Malwa, caused the elaborately carved gateways to Stupa 1. The Great Stupa of Sanchi displays an austere grandeur and the exquisite carvings of the doorway depict in detail the significant episodes and miracles from Lord Buddha’s life and events depicted in the Buddhist Jataka stories.
The reconstruction of Temple 40 and erection of Stupas 2 and 3 also seem to date back around the same time.
From the second to fourth century AD Sanchi and Vidisha came under the Kushanas and Kshatrapas and subsequently passed on to the hands of the Guptas. During the Gupta period some temples were also built and sculptures were added displaying the classical grace and simplicity of the era. Further, statues of Lord Buddha seated in the canopies facing the four entrances of the Great Stupa were also added. Sanchi also flourished during the 7th – 12th centuries A.D. when shrines and monasteries were continued to be added. Thus Sanchi displays harmonious co-existence of Hindu and Buddhist faiths.
Since the fourteenth century Sanchi remained deserted and uncared for till 1818 when General Taylor rediscovered the site. Sir John Marshall established an archaeological museum in 1919, which was later transformed into the present site museum at Sanchi.
Presently under an UNESCO project Sanchi and Satdhara, a Buddhist site, 10 km south-east of Sanchi, is being further excavated, conserved and environmentally developed.


Sanchi is a peaceful hill crowned by a group of stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from 3rd century BC to 12th century AD. The glory that was Sanchi, an ancient place of pilgrimage, can still be experienced in its complex structures where many Buddhist legends found expression in the rich sculpture. The Buddha is not represented through figures at Sanchi, but through symbols, as was the tradition in the early period of Buddhism. The lotus represents the Buddha's birth, the tree signifies his enlightenment, and the wheel represents his nirvana or salvation.

The footprints and the throne denote the Buddha's presence. Sanchi was virtually forgotten after the 13th Century until 1818, when General Taylor, a British Officer rediscovered it, half buried and well preserved. Later in 1912, Sir John Marshal, Director General of Archeology ordered the restoration work at the site. Some of the important monuments in Sanchi are: - The Great Stupa No.1- 36.5mts in diameter and 16.4 mts high it is one of the oldest stone structures in India. With a massive hemispherical dome, the stupa stands majestically. The paved procession path around it has become smooth by centuries of pilgrim's visit. Built originally as an earthen stupa by the Emperor Ashoka, it was rebuilt in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. The last of the additions to this remarkable stupa are the elaborate and richly carved four gateways or Toranas. The first of the four gateways to be erected was the one at the Southern Entrance, followed, in chronological order by the Northern, the Eastern and the Western Gateways. The Southern Gateway: Reveals the birth of Gautum in a series of dramatically rich carvings. The southern Gateway: crowned by a wheel of law, illustrates the miracle associated with the Buddha as told in the Jataka tales. The Eastern Gateway, depicts the young prince, Gautam, leaving his father's place, renouncing worldly life to seek enlightenment .The inner face of the right pillar portrays the dream of Maya, the mother of Buddha, when she conceived him. The Western Gateway depicts the Seven incarnations of the Buddha, four represented by trees and three by stupas; the Buddha preaching his first sermon at the Deer Park, Sarnath and the Chhaddanta Jataka tale. Stupa No. 2, dating back to the 2nd Century BC, stands at the very edge of the hill and its most striking feature is the stone balustrade that surrounds it. Stupa No.3 situated northeast of the Great Stupa is where the relics of Sariputra and Mahamogalana, the two famous disciples of the Buddha were found in its inner most chambers. The hemispherical dome is crowned, as a mark of its special religious significance, with an umbrella of polished stone. It has only one gateway. This structure belongs to the period between 150-140 BC. Ashoka Pillar, with its four lion head stump, erected during the 3rd Century BC, is situated close to the Southern Gateway of the Great Stupa. Though, similar to the intricately carved pillar in Sarnath, the lions did not support a "Wheel of Law" (Dharmachakra). A unique feature of this pillar is its brilliant polish. The Gupta Temple (4th Century AD), in ruins now, is one of the earliest known examples of temple architecture in India. It consists of a simple flat roofed chamber with a pillared porch in front. Temple 18, a Chaitya Hall, situated in front of the Southern Gateway of the Great Stupa is comparatively recent (around 7th Century A.D.) resembles the rock-cut Chaitya halls at Karla Caves in Maharashtra. The Monastery and Temple 45, built between the 7th and 11th Centuries, show more developed styles of architecture. On the ornamental doorway here, one can see the image of Buddha with an oval Halo. The Great Bowl, carved out of one block of stone, contained food that was distributed amongst the monks of Sanchi. The Archaeological Survey of India Museum, situated at the entrance to the monument, exhibits findings and remains of the excavated site. Among these are caskets, pottery, and parts of gateways, lion capital of the Ashokan Pillar and images.
The Hill of Sanchi is Situated about 9 K.M. South-West of Vidisha in Madhya pradesh, India. Crowning the hilltop of Sanchi nearly 91 metres in height,a group of Buddhist monument commands a grand view even from a distance. It is unique not only in its having the most perfect and well-preserved stupas but also in its offering a wide and educative field for the genesis, efflorescence and decay of Buddhist art and architecture for a period of about thirteen hundred years, from the third century B.C. to the twelfth century, A.D. almost covering the whole range of India Buddhism, Hiuen Tsang who so meticulously recorded the details connected with Buddhist monument silent about it The only possible reference to it is contained in the chronicles of Sri . Lanka, according to which Mahendra son, sanghmitra daughter of Ashoka and his Queen Devi, daughter of a Merchant of Vidisha, Whom Ashoka had married, Mahendra and Sanghmitra set out for Sri Lanka as Missionaries.
Nearest airport is at Bhopal ( 46 km via Diwanganj and 78 km via Raisen) which is connected with Delhi, Mumbai, Jabalpur, Gwalior and Indore.
2. Sanchi lies on the Jhansi-Itarsi section of the Central railways. However, the most convenient railheads are Vidisha (10 km) & Bhopal (46 km).
3. Good, motorable roads connect Sanchi with Bhopal, Indore Sagar, Gwalior, Vidisha and Raisen, besides other places.



Tourist Information
Open on all weekdays from sunrise to sunset. Entry fee for those above 12 years: Rs. 5.00. Free entry on Fridays.
Best time to visit
November to February
Access
Located in Madhya Pradesh, Sanchi is connected to Bhopal. By road which is 46 kilometers away via Diwanganj and 78 kilometers away via Raisen. To get to this site one must reach Bhopal, which is well connected by air, rail and road to Delhi, Mumbai, Gwalior and Indore, and thereafter use the motorable road to Sanchi.
Where to stay
Sri Lanka Mahabodhi society Rest House, Travelers Lodge; Buddhist guesthouse, Circuit House.

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