The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India, and an important monument of Indian Architecture. It was originally commissioned by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BCE. 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 symbolizing high rank, which was intended to honour and shelter the relics.Sanchi was also her birthplace as well as the venue of her and Ashoka's wedding. In the 1st century BCE, four elaborately carved toranas (ornamental gateways) and a balustrade encircling the entire structure were added. The Sanchi Stupa built during the Mauryan period was made of bricks. The composite flourished until the 11th century.
The magnificent Sanchi Stupa in Bhopal was established in the 3rd century BC by the king Ashoka of the mighty Maurya dynasty. The relics of Lord Buddha are kept at this place. The Sanchi Nagar is locatedatop a hill and is surrounded by lush green gardens. The statues and monuments present at this place gives a good glimpse of Buddhist art and architectural art. Sanchi Stupa is also known as Stupa number one. In Sanchi, the work of setting up the temple, Stupa and monuments was started in the 3rd century BCE on the orders of Emperor Ashoka and the entire construction work continued till 12th century AD. Ashoka Pillar, the insignia of India, was also built during this time. Sanchi was a trading place. According to a version of the Mahavamsa of Sri Lanka's Buddhist period, Ashoka was associated with Sanchi province long back. When Ashoka was a successor and used to come as Viceroy. At the same time, he was stopped at Vidisha (10 km from Sanchi).
The grand structure stands tall at a height of 42 ft and a width of 106 ft. The central chamber of the stupa is a large hemispherical dome that is home to many relics of Lord Buddha. Traditionally, however, stupas do not contain relics and merely depict teachings and philosophies through carvings. Sanchi Stupa is surrounded by elaborate Torana, which are free-standing arched gateways used for ceremonial purposes in Indian temple architecture. The intricate carvings on the doorway are inspired by the life events and miracles of Lord Buddha, taken from the Buddhist jataka stories. The original stupa built by emperor Ashoka was a low brick structure, only half the diameter of the present edifice. It was supported by a raised terrace at its base and was enclosed by a wooden railing with a stone umbrella on top. The stupa can be seen from as far as 4 km away, surrounded by lush verdant trees and serves as the nucleus around which the other stupas came up eventually. It has been declared as a UNESCO world heritage site.
- The Buddha's Enlightenment: The Sanchi Stupa is said to represent the Buddha's enlightenment. It is believed that the stupa marks the spot where the Buddha gave his first sermon after attaining enlightenment, known as the Dharma Chakra Parivartan.
- The Path to Enlightenment: The circular shape of the stupa is said to represent the path to enlightenment. It is believed that walking around the stupa in a clockwise direction can help one on their journey to enlightenment.
- The Three Jewels of Buddhism: The Sanchi Stupa is said to represent the Three Jewels of Buddhism, which are the Buddha, the Dharma (his teachings), and the Sangha (the community of Buddhist monks and nuns). The three elements of the stupa, the base, dome, and harmika, represent each of the Three Jewels.
- The Four Noble Truths: The four gates of the Sanchi Stupa are said to represent the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism, which are the truth of suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, and the path to the end of suffering.
- Protection and Blessings: The Sanchi Stupa is believed to provide protection and blessings to those who visit or pay homage to it. It is also believed that offering prayers and making offerings at the stupa can bring good luck and prosperity.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SANCHI STUPA
- Sanchi Stupa was commissioned by Emperor Ashoka and supervised by his queen Devi and daughter Vidisha.
- After the emperor accepted Buddhism, he built the first stupa at Sanchi followed by several more in the later years.
- Sanchi Stupa remained deserted and undiscovered from the 14th century until the year 1818 when General Taylor rediscovered the site.
- Sir John Marshall established an archaeological museum here in 1919, which is today known as Sanchi Museum.
- The pillar of Sanchi Stupa has an Ashokan inscription called Schism Edict. It also has an inscription in the ornamental Sankha Lippi from the Gupta period.
- It’s the oldest stone structure in India.
- Sanchi Stupa has a large number of Brahmi inscriptions.
TIMINGS & ENTRY FEE
The timings to visit Sanchi Stupa is between 6:30 A.M. to 6:30 P.M.
The entry fee is INR 30 per person for Indian citizens as well as the residents of SAARC and BIMSTEC countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, Afghanistan, Thailand, Myanmar) and INR 500 for other foreign nationals for visiting Sanchi Stupa.
- Utopia Hotel: Set in Sanchi, approximately 1.2 km from Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, Utopia Resort Sanchi offers accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a garden and a terrace.
- MPT Gateway Retreat: Conveniently situated in the Sanchi part of Sanchi, this property puts you close to attractions and interesting dining options. This 3-star property is packed with in-house facilities to improve the quality and joy of your stay.
- Hotel Sambodhi: Hotel Sambodhi Sanchi is a two-star hotel that is situated conveniently on Sanchi-Vidisha Main Road. The hotel is also part of leading business group in Central India and has been in the business for more than a decade.
- Sanghamitra Retreat and Resort : Sanghamitra Resort is an elegant tourist resort located near Bodhi tree, Vidisha – Bhopal Road, Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh. offering 31 well-appointed luxury rooms with world class service.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Sanchi Stupa Bhopal is between the months of October and March as the weather is favorable during the span of this time. Apart from these months, the monsoon season is also considered to be a favourable time to visit the heritage site. The only thing to keep in mind before making a trip plan here in this season is that if there is more rain then you may have some inconvenience in visiting Sanchi city.
How to Reach
- By Train: If you are planning on commuting via train, then,the Sanchi railway station is a small railway station, about 1.5 kilometres from Sanchi Stupa. However, if you are coming by rail, it is best to take a train to Bhopal Junction as it is well-connected to the rest of the country with a decent train network that includes five pairs of Rajdhani Express, two pairs of Shatabdi Express, Garib Rath Express, Duronto Express and several Express and passenger trains. The New Delhi Bhopal Habibganj Shatabdi Express 12002 originates here and is among the fastest trains in the country covering Delhi - Agra - Gwalior - Jhansi - Bhopal/Habibganj.
- By Flight: If you are planning on commuting via flight, thenthe Raja Bhoj Airport in Gandhi Nagar, Bhopal, is the closest airport to the Sanchi Stupa, about 55 kilometres away. From the airport you can hire a taxi that will bring you to the heritage site in under an hour and a half. The Bhopal airport is a domestic one with great connectivity to Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Raipur, Shirdi, Jaipur and Bangalore.
- By Road: There are several buses plying from Bhopal bus stand, which is about a kilometre from the Bhopal Junction railway station, that take you to Sanchi in roughly an hour. Such a bus stops at a point on the road which has an information board on how to get to the Stupas complex. From there, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is a brief walk away.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
Where is Sanchi Stupa located?
Sanchi Stupa is located in Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh.
What is the best time to visit Sanchi Stupa?
The best time to visit Sanchi Stupa is between the months of October and March.
How to reach Sanchi Stupa?
Sanchi Stupa can be reached via road, rail, or flight. The nearest railway station is the Sanchi Railway Station, the convenient way to reach the destination would be to take the train to Bhopal Junction. The nearest airport is Raja Bhoj Airport in Gandhi Nagar, Bhopal.
What are the nearby attractions to Sanchi Stupa?
Places to visit near Sanchi Stupa are Ashoka Pillar, Udayagiri Caves, Sanchi Museum and Gupta Temple.