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Please call (559) 446 0499 or email: brij@indiatravelerusa.com to an Central & Western India Journey including Sanchi

Sanchi is located at the foot of a hill that is about 31 miles from Bhopal, the capital of central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. There is a small village near the famous archeological site. The Stupas of Sanchi were built on a hilltop. There were probably pre-Buddhist era structures here before the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka built the first Stupa here in 250 BCE. The site was discovered in 1818 and the restoration work continued from 1881 to 1919. It is a remarkable feat of architectural engineering and is especially renowned for its precise and intricate sculptures. The structures in Sanchi belong to the original Hinayana period when the statues of Buddha were not used in religious places. The theme of the sculptures relates the various Jataka tales of Bodhisatvas, the previous incarnations of Lord Buddha before he was born as Siddhartha Gautam and finally achieved Nirwana. They depict important events of his life.

Sanchi is a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site that has the distinction of representing Buddhist art and architecture from the Mauryan period in early 3rd. century BCE to 12th. century CE.

Emperor Ashoka in third century BCE constructed the first Stupa and additions were done by later rulers who were influenced by the Buddhist philosophy. This Stupa is 53 feet high and has a diameter of 121 feet. It has a railing running around it that is also beautifully carved out of stone. There are four Torana Gateways leading inside the surrounding railing. On these gateways scenes from the lives of Buddha and of Emperor Ashoka are carved. The northern gateway is the best preserved of all. It depicts the Dharma Chakra or the wheel of religion (law). The path around this Stupa is very smooth because the pilgrims had walked on it for centuries. Near the southern entrance there are several pillars, one of which was constructed by Emperor Ashoka. A little down the hill on its western side is a second Stupa that is significantly smaller. It has medallions decorating its surrounding wall. It contains relics of some important early Buddhist teachers. A third Stupa is a bit similar to the great Stupa but much smaller in size. It is located on the northeast side of the Great Stupa. It is supposed to have contained the relics of the two most important disciples of Lord Buddha, Sariputta and Mahamogallena. There are many other smaller Stupas in the vicinity, some of which are not in a good state of preservation. The smallest of these Stupas is about 3 feet high. The Chaitya Hall south of the Great Stupa and a smaller Temple have distinct Greek influence in their sculptures.

A few miles from Sanchi is another Satdhara Stupa that also contained relics. A modern monastery is nearby in which the relics are placed in a glass casket. There is a Gupta Period Temple from the fifth century CE which is mostly in ruins now. The remains in the ruins show excellent quality of temple architecture and sculpture during the Gupta Period. There is a site museum maintained by the Archeological Survey of India at Sanchi. It has a sizable and very interesting collection of artifacts collected from the excavations at Sanchi. The most important of these is the crown of Ashoka Pillar. The museum also has ancient utensils and other daily use items that were used by Buddhist monks who lived at the Sanchi Buddhist Center.

The UNESCO World Heritge Buddhist monuments at Sanchi are open from sunrise to sunset on all days of the week throughout the year. The entry fee for foreigners is Rs. 250 or US$ 5 per person, for children up to 15 years of age the entry is free.

Following simple accommodation is available in Sanchi but most tourists stay in Bhopal and take a full day excursion to Sanchi:

Gateway Retreat Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh Government Enterprise) - 26 rooms (has a simple restaurant also)

Distance from Sanchi in Kilometers and Miles:

Bhopal: 46 Kilometers or 29 Miles
Vidisha: 12 Kilometers or 75 Miles
Udaigiri: 13 Kilometers or 81 Miles

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