UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE ‘MAHASTUPA’ (GREAT STUPA) STANDS HERE
HOME TO THE GUPTA TEMPLE, ONE OF THE EARLIEST EXAMPLES OF TEMPLE ARCHITECTURE
The evolution of temple architecture is seen in the Gupta temple in the Stupa premises THAT WERE BUILT IN 5TH CENTURY
HOUSES 4 GATEWAYS THAT SHOWCASE BUDDHA’S LIFE THROUGH INTRICATE CARVINGS
THE LION CAPITAL OF ASHOKAN PILLAR CAN BE FOUND AT THE ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM
The builder and
Built by an emperor and restored by a British duo
Emperor Ashoka and Sir John Marshall
Emperor Ashoka built the great stupa and made the town of Sanchi sacred as well as popular in 3rd century BC. But a British cavalry officer rediscovered and revived the sacredness of the town in 1818.
Buddhist influence over the central Indian landscape had declined by the 12th century and the stupas and other monuments slipped into obscurity. As Buddhism recessed, these architectural marvels were no more considered useful, and eventually, were completely forgotten.
It was in the year 1818 that British officer General Taylor discovered the site of Sanchi. He set about restoring its glory. Between 1912 and 1919, these beautiful ancient structures were restored to their present condition under the able supervision of Sir John Marshall, Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India.
Today around 50 monuments remain on the hill of Sanchi, narrating the rise and fall of Buddhist art and architecture.
The Sanchi stupa captures the journey to enlightenment
Architectural drawing of Sanchi Stupa
The Sanchi Stupa is more than a reliquary preserving the remains of Buddhist teachers and Buddhism. It shows the journey to enlightenment.
Traditionally, stupas do hold relics of Buddha or influential Buddhist monks. But at the same time, these structures also explain how Buddha achieved enlightenment, freeing himself from the cycle of life and death.
The Stupa consists of a base bearing a hemispherical dome (anda), symbolizing the dome of heaven enclosing the earth. It is surmounted by a squared rail unit (harmika) representing the world mountain, from which rises a mast (yashti), symbolizing the cosmic axis. The mast bears umbrellas (chatras) that represent the various heavens (devaloka).
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 numerous stupas, temples, monasteries and an Ashokan pillar have been the focus of interest and awe for global audiences as well. In fact, UNESCO has given the status of 'World Heritage Site' to the Mahastupa.
A visit to Sanchi will bring alive the awe you felt as a child as you listened to the tales of Ashoka.
Points of interest
The Great Stupa
With a diameter of 106 ft. and standing 42 ft. high, it is the grandest structure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bija Mandal - Vidisha district
Vidisha town, the headquarters of Vidisha dsitrict, is located just 9 km from Sanchi. Vidisha was an important trade centre in 5th and 6th century and contains the ruins of the Bija Mandal Temple and Mosque, and Gumbaz Ka Makbara.
Sanchi Stupa 2
This beautiful stupa sits at the edge of the hill, encircled by stone balustrade with carvings of goddesses.
The great bowl
Carved out of a single block of stone, it was used to hold food that was to be distributed among monks.
Situated close to the Great Stupa are the relics of two of Buddha’s earliest disciples - Sariputta and Mahamogallena.
These ancient caves, built during the reign of Chandragupta II, have all the features that gave Gupta art its unique identity.
The ASI museum
The Archaeological Survey of India Museum has preserved noteworthy antiquities including the lion capital of the Ashokan pillar.
This 5th century temple is one of the earliest known examples of temple architecture in India.
Sanchi Stupa 3
Sanchi Stupa 3
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Gateway Retreat is a standard leisure hotel located in Sanchi. The facilities include a swimming pool, a well-equipped conference hall and a lawn area for parties. It is recommended for inbound travellers and those looking for comfortable accommodation to explore the area.
Rooms and Suites
INR 2290 onwards
Bhopal - 52.2kms
Tel: (07482) 266723
Bhopal - 48.4kms
Plan your Travel
Reaching by Air
Nearest airport is in Bhopal city, the Raja Bhoj airport. Sanchi is 55 km north-east of Bhopal airport, which is well-connected with other airports like Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Raipur and Delhi.
Reaching by Rail
The nearest railhead is Bhopal, which is also an important junction of the West Central Railways. It is also the terminus of the Shatabdi Express, which shuttles daily between Delhi and Bhopal. Various express trains ply between Bhopal and cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Agra, Gwalior, Jhansi and Ujjain. One can reach Bhopal by train and avail a bus / car from there for Sanchi.
Reaching by Road
Sanchi is at a convenient distance from places like Bhopal (46 km), Vidisha (10 km) and Indore (232 km). Various tour operators provide private taxis and cabs.
A handy digital map of the location and facilities for easy reference.
LOCAL GUIDE DIRECTORY
List and contact information of accredited local guides. Please call and book in advance.
A guide to the sights, facilities, timings and more.
BEST SEASON TO VISIT
This destination can be visited throughout the year, but it’s best to visit in the months of July to April.