The religion of Buddhism has a huge importance in the Indian culture and heritage. The history of Buddhism is intricately related with the history of the nation and intersects some of the most important political dynasties from time to time. You will find a number of ancient constructions and monuments which narrate the saga of Buddhism, its flourish and grandeur in the ancient times of India.

The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one such construction which reflects the monumental position the faith of Buddhism attained in the region and amongst its people. Located in Raisen District in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, it is one of the most popular Buddhist complexes you will find in modern India. The place is famous for the great Buddhist Stupa.

Apart from reflecting the popularity of Buddhism the Great Stupa at Sanchi is also an edifice reflecting the popular trends and patterns of Indian architecture. It is considered as one of the most popular tourist attractions of Madhya Pradesh. It attracts millions of visitors and tourists every year from different parts of the nation.

The Great Stupa at Sanchi was Built by

The Great Stupa at Sanchi was constructed by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. The Grand structure is surrounded by several other smaller monasteries, Stupas and temples which were built around the central structure of the Great Stupa, by different other religious communities at various points in time.

The original Stupa created by Ashoka was nothing like the impressive structure that we see today.

The original Stupa was roughly about half the size of the current construction and was made out of mud mortar and large bricks. It was during the Sunga period that the Stupa was enlarged in its dimensions. Local sandstone was used for the purpose. This process of enlarging the Stupa began about half a century after the death of Ashoka.

Sanchi Stupa Timings

Sanchi Stupa is open for visitors and tourists all round the week. You can visit the place on any day of the week including the weekends. The general timing for visiting this Stupa is from 8:30 a.m. in the morning till 5:30 pm in the evening. However visiting hours during public and national holidays can differ slightly. There is also the Stupa museum which opens from 10 a.m. in the morning and remains open till 5 p.m. in the evening.

Sanchi Stupa Information

The great Stupa at Sanchi is a really interesting architecture. The nucleus resembled a simple hemispherical brick which was constructed over the Buddha relics.  The Chhatrri which was like a parasol structure was crowned on top of the design which was a symbol of elite rank. This parasol shaped structure was installed to give honor and shelter to the relics of Lord Buddha. It was Emperor Ashoka who was guide to the original construction work of the Stupa. Sanchi was the birthplace of Devi – wife of Ashoka. She was the daughter of a merchant who lived in the nearby area of Vidisha. Ashoka married Devi in Sanchi itself.

In the first century BCE four beautifully carved toranas or ornamental gateways and a balustrade that encircled the whole structure was added to the stupa. The extra additions to the Sanchi Stupa that was done during the Maurya period mainly comprised of brickwork.

How to Reach Sanchi: (Air Road and Train)

Sanchi is a very short distance away from Bhopal. This means that if you wish to visit the stupa the best way of planning is touching down at Bhopal. There are several buses starting from the Bhopal bus stand which moves in the direction of Sanchi. The bus stand is about a kilometer away from the Bhopal railway station and it takes about an hour time to reach Ranchi through these bus services.

The Sanchi railway station is the nearest station from the stupa and is about 1.5 kilometer from the Sanchi complex. The number of passenger trains that stops in this station is quite scarce. You can find a few long distance trains which halt at this Sanchi railway station for a very brief time. If you are planning to take the railways to reach Sanchi it is best to get down at the Bhopal junction. This station is much better connected with other parts of the country and is a much bigger one. It receives a larger number of trains.

The Raja Bhoj airport which is situated in Gandhinagar, Bhopal is the nearest airport from the Sanchi Stupa and is about 55 kilometres away. You can easily hire a cab to come down to the Heritage site which will take you about half an hour to 45 minutes.

Sanchi Stupa Entrance Fee:

Indian tourist and visitors from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries need to pay Rs. 40 as their entry fee to the Sanchi Stupa. Other foreigner tourist must be Rs. 600 as the entry fee to Sanchi Stupa. Children under the age of 15 can visit the place for free. You can book the tickets when at the exact Heritage site. The ticket counter is a very small distance away from the main road. However it is always best to book online ticket beforehand so that you do not need to spare any extra time when you are at the location.

Important Structures in Sanchi Stupa

The Sanchi Stupa is one of the best known conserved Buddhist stupas of the nation. It has four ornamental gateways or toranas which welcomes visitors from all across the planet. The Stupa is an outstanding specimen of Grand Buddhist architecture, intricate carvings and rich culture.

The architectural trends and patterns which began with the Sanchi Stupa was continued and flourished during the later centuries up till the 12th century AD. It was the Satavahanas who added the ornate gateways to the Stupa around 1st Century BCE. The gateways consist of illustrations exhibiting tales from Jatakamala revolving around the life of Lord Buddha. There are other special monuments in the Sanchi Stupa Complex which takes us back a long time in history. There are temples that can be dated back to 3rd Century BC. The architecture of these temples reflects construction patterns and styles of different eras and periods.

The earliest temples can be dated back to the Maurya dynasty right to the time of Bindusara – Emperor Ashoka’s father. The Stupa number 2 was constructed during the Sunga rule which also emphasizes the role of Buddhism during the contemporary society. The Stupa exhibits popular Buddhist themes where you can find indications of the events of enlightenment, nativity, first Sermon and decease. You can also find reference to tales from Jataka. Similar patterns can also be witnessed in Stupa number three.

There is also the Sanchi museum which is just at the descent of the hill. This is a single storey white building that is encircled by a lush green compound of tall trees and spectacular gardens. This Museum of Sanchi was established in the year 1919 and has been entrusted to the authority of ASI. There are four galleries within the Museum which holds important relics from Buddhist heritage that can be dated back to several kingdoms which came into power in this region. You can visit the museum any day in the week except for Friday.

Best time to visit sanchi stupa

The best time to visit Sanchi Stupa is during the autumn winter and spring months. The months between November and March are the most favorable time to visit this famous Buddhist stupa at Sanchi. During this time the temperature in Madhya Pradesh is considered to be moderate and comfortable. Staying outdoors for long hours will not be a problem and you will be able to explore the Stupa and the adjoining temples and monuments to their minutest details.

History of sanchi

Historians have pointed out at the fact that from the very earliest of Ashokan rule Sanchi was a place with eminent religious and spiritual importance. It was under encouragement from his wife Queen Devi that Ashoka got down to the project of building a stupa on top of the hill. Owing to the serene and calm ambience of the place it soon became the perfect spot for meditation. No wonder the place attracted the attention of the contemporary Buddhist followers for their regular religious practices. Apart from depicting the pivotal position of Buddhism in contemporary life the Sanchi stupa is a standing ovation to the masterful architecture and art which were elemental features of the Ashokan reign. A quick look at the Sanchi Stupa clearly reveals that religion, culture, spirituality were some of the most important aspects of common and daily life all throughout the Maurya period and the later period of the Sungas. Apart from the great Stupa of Sanchi the other adjoining smaller stupas, temples and religious constructions clearly narrate the fact that for a long time in the past social, religious and cultural affairs were given a lot of prominence in the life of the common and elite people.

Attractions nearby sanchi

After visiting the Sanchi complex and the Sanchi museum plan a visit places like Udaygiri cave, Tropic of Cancer, the heliodorus pillar, etc.

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