INTRODUCTIONSanchi, a serene and sleepy place atop a hill has the singular distinction of telling an uninterrupted Buddhist history of over 2,000 years in stone. It has stupas,chaityas,temples,torana gateways, pillars and monasteries-the best and perfect examples of Buddhist architectural and creative art in India.Sanchi was almost lost to us but for a British Officer who rediscovered it in 1818 and the Archeological Department finally restored and repaired in phases to the present state.
Sanchi was declared as the World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1989.It is one of the important pilgrim spots for all the Buddhist devotees where they come from different parts of the world.Sanchi symbolizes victory of peace over war. This place is more of a living example of visions and beliefs of Emperor Ashoka.
HISTORYSanchi was the centre for the Hinayana form of Buddhism and it nothing much associated with the life of Gautama Buddha. It was Emperor Ashoka who was one of the ardent disciple of Buddha, in the third century BC built the first stupa in Sanchi.This was followed by the construction of other stupas and Buddhist buildings in the preceding years.
But however soon there was a decline in Buddhism during which the monuments and the stupas were not maintained at all. It was only in the year 1818 Sanchi was rediscovered and renewed by a British Officer, General Taylor. But again there was a fall in the monuments when the amateur archaeologists tried treasure hunting here. Between 1912 and 1919, the structures were carefully repaired and restored through the efforts of an archaeologist and historian, Sir George Marshal.
Sanchi is situated in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India; its geographical coordinates are 23° 30' 0" North, 77° 35' 0" East. Bhopal is just 46 kilometers in the East.
BEST SEASONThe ideal time to visit this place is between the months of October to March.
FAIRS AND FESTIVELS
CHETHIYAGIRI VIHARA FESTIVALSChethiyagiri Vihara is a famous festival held during the end of November. This festival celebrates the virtue of ancient associations of Buddha's two initial disciples whose remains were discovered in Stupa 3 in 1853.The two disciples, whose relics are the center of this festival, were Sari Puttha and Maha Moggallana.During this festival Sanchi is thronged by thousands of Buddhists monks and pilgrims from different parts of the world.
PLACES OF PILGRIM ATTRACTION
THE FOUR GATE WAYThe Gateways which are also called as Torans was constructed in 35BC which are considered as an excellent expression of Buddhism in the world. The Four Gate Ways are featured by carvings which are clearly defined and depicting the scenes from the life Buddha and Jatakas which relates mostly to the life of birth. During this period there was no direct representation of Buddha but instead expressions where in the form of lotus which tells about his birth, the tree his enlightenment, the wheel, derived from the title of his first sermon, the footprints and throw symbolizing his presence.
BUDDHIST VIHARAThe earlier monasteries were made from wood which was exquisitely carved and tastefully decorated. The present monasteries are not even the shadow of what they were in the past. A few kms from Sanchi are the relics of the Satdhara Stupa. The relics are kept in glass casket which is placed on the inner sanctum of the modern monastery.
THE GREAT BOWLThe Great Bowl is very renowned for it is engraved from a single block of stone. They were mainly used to store food for the monks and then distributed to them. The Great Bowl otherwise known as gumbha is a precious relic displaying the marvelous artistic grandeur.
GUPTA TEMPLEThis temple is now in ruins. But what ever is left tells a saga of greatness and a temple which had no match during its times. The temple was built in 5 the century and is an excellent example of ancient temple architecture in India.
SHOPPINGSanchi is quite famous Brass Ware, Buddha Statues, Terracotta, Shell Work, Crochet, Carved Furniture and Bamboo Work. The region has a rich heritage of handicrafts that has earned worldwide renown. Muslin is a traditional craft in the regions nearby where you can add it in the shopping list.
1.Hotel Sambodhi Interational
2.Gateway Retreat Sanchi
3.Jehan Numa Palace 157 Shamla Hill,
4.M P T D C Gateway Cafeteria
Some of the places for staying are Tourist Cafeteria, Travelers Lodge, Sri Lanka Mahabodhi Society Rest House, Buddhist Guest house and Circuit House.
At a distance of 46 kilometers at Bhopal is the nearest airport of Bhopal that connects Sanchi with the other major cities of India like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Gwalior and Indore.
The road network links Sanchi with Indore, Sagar, Gwalior, Vidisha, Raisen et al. From Bhopal the capital city of Madhya Pradesh several buses and taxis ply to and from Sanchi.