Sanchi is about 52 km from Bhopal and is famous all over India for its Buddhist stupas, pillars, monasteries and temples. Buddhist art and architecture is manifested here and the most famous among them is the Sanchi Stupa. We started from the hotel early in the morning and reached the place within two and a half hours. We were very impressed by the structure and stood gazing at it for a long time. A stupa is a large hemispherical dome with a central chamber, in which the relics of Budha are placed.
The Sanchi Stupa is one of the well preserved structures in India and was built by Ashoka the Great. The construction started in 3rd century BCE under the guidance of Ashoka’s wife, Devi. In the 1st century BCE four ornamental gateways called torans were added on the four sides facing the four sides. A balustrade encircling the whole stupa was also added.
We entered through the beautifully carved gate and got near the stupa. The stupa had railings, staircase and a harmika on top. There is a path around the stupa for circumambulation. The path had railings and gates at each direction. Lord Buddha here is represented by symbols like foot prints, wheels, thrones etc instead of his image.
The gateways of the stupa has incidents from the life of Buddha carved on it and also those from his previous births as told in Jataka Tales. I showed them to my kids and explained about it to them. They got very interested as they had read about them in their story books.
There were many visitors and tourists studying the stupa, the gateways and the carvings on them, and taking their photographs. We went around the stupa with other people, getting a fine view of the structure. There were many names carved on the stupa, which were the names of people who donated for the construction of the stupa. I could see more than 600 names there. It was a very special experience visiting the stupa and knowing the Buddhist culture and history. After spending a few hours visiting the stupa and other places of interest in at Sanchi, we went back to our hotel.