The jewel of India is it’s religious sanctity and spiritual gurus which took birth here from time to time strengthening humanity with their enlighten words. There is a long lineage of these individuals in India since ancient time who transformed the whole era and after that propagating spiritualism which is beyond materialism and common cause of being. In 6th century B.C one of these Gurus took birth in the lower hills of Himalaya; named Buddha. Lord Buddha propagated the enlighten path of truth & non-violence. His preaching is still transforming millions after these long centuries.
Sanchi is a major pilgrimage site 46 km away from Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh. It is famous for its Stupas which were initiated by the great king Ashoka in second century B.C. The site of Sanchi comprises a group of Buddhist monuments (monolithic pillars, palaces, temples and monasteries) all in different states of conservation most of which date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. It is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence and was a major Buddhist centre in India until the 12th century A.D.
The town of Sanchi is synonymous with Buddhist Stupas – hemispherical structures typically containing relics of the Buddha or his followers. The Stupas of Sanchi were constructed on the orders of Emperor Ashoka to preserve and spread the Buddhist philosophy. Sanchi has been protecting these beautiful and sacred architectural wonders, just the way these wonders have been safeguarding ancient history and art of the Mauryan period.
The Great Stupa
The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the most important Buddhist monuments reflecting gem of Buddhist art and architecture. Located at Sanchi Town, Madhya Pradesh, India, this Stupa is the oldest stone structure in India that was built during the Mauryan period. Originally commissioned in the third century BCE by Emperor Ashok this huge hemispherical dome with a height of 12.2816.46 m (54.0 ft) consists of a central chamber where the relics of Lord Buddha are placed. Four ornamental gateways facing four directions and a balustrade surrounding the Stupa were later added in the first century BCE. A typical example of a Stupa and an excellent illustration of the development of Buddhist art and sculpture starting from the third century BC through the twelfth century AD, the Sanchi Stupa attracts hundreds of visitors from across the world.
As perceived from inscriptions, presumably the four intricately decorated torans or gateways facing all four directions and an ornamented balustrade surrounding the stupa were added later in the first century BCE during the Satavahana rule. Various designs and motifs are carved on the railing and the gates of the Stupa. The sculptures on the torans consist of decorative illustrations of events encompassing the life of Lord Buddha as elucidated in the tales of Jataka. Inanimate figures like that of a tree are used here to symbolise Lord Buddha. One of the most striking features regarding the Stupa is that instead of images, Lord Buddha has been depicted symbolically by figures like thrones, wheels and footprints among others.
Sanchi Stupa No-2
The Stupa No.2 at Sanchi, also called Sanchi II, is one of the oldest existing Buddhist stupas in India, and part of the Buddhist complex of Sanchi. It is of particular interest since it has the earliest known important displays of decorative reliefs in India, probably anterior to the reliefs at the Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, or the reliefs of Bharhut. It displays what has been called “the oldest extensive stupa decoration in existence”. Stupa number II at Sanchi is therefore considered as the birthplace of Jataka illustrations.
The Ashoka Pillar also warrants a special mention among the memorials and monuments in Sanchi. Among the many pillars that one can find scattered in a dilapidated condition, the Ashoka Pillar stands tall. One of the remarkable features of the pillar is its crown that depicts four lions standing back to back.