Sanchi Travel Guide
Sanchi Travel Guide: This centre of Buddhism exudes the gentle peacefulness of the religion. As a center of Buddhism in the ancient times, it is home to a variety of stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from the 3rd century BC to the 12th century AD. Most of these predate the Hindu efflorescence and served as its inspiration. However, apart from its religious and cultural aspects, it is renowned for being the city of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. The original peacenik, he started on his momentous journey from here after the heart break of the Kalinga war. Relive the life of a peace-loving emperor. Imagine how he would have renounced his kingly ambitions to make peace and love his motive. See how he made this as his state police and the imperial instruments he used to further the peace within and without. There is a lesson in this for all of us.
Place To Visit in Sanchi
The chief attraction of Sanchi is 16.4 m high with a 37 m diameter. Begun by Ashok, the Maurya emperor and completed between 3-2nd century the stupa is the oldest stone architecture in India. As a symbol of death, there are no images of Buddha in it. There are only the lotus, peepul tree and chakra symbols for the birth of the Buddha, his enlightenment and teachings. You can see his footprints to signify his nirvana.
The Giant Stupa is bedecked with 4 arches or entrances. The Western gate built in 35 BC, is adorned Jataka tales with sculptures-depicting the seven incarnations of the Buddha. Buddha appears symbolically, sometimes as a tree, pillar or a horse. A sandstone sculpture shows the defeat of the wicked after the temptation of the Buddha by the Mar demon. The middle row depicts the Buddha preaching his message and the lower series the story of Bodhisattva. The South gate is carved with Maya, his mother. Sculptures also narrate the stories from the Chaddanta Jataka tales. Nearby the south gate is the 12-8 m high mined pillar which in the past was adorned with a lion at the top. It inspired the one that India eventually adopted as its national symbol. Prince Goutam, the young Buddha, leaving home and attaining nirvana, and the dream of Mayadevi when she saw an elephant in moon are on the East gate. At the North gate the images show the Buddha preaching in the shade of a mango tree. His legs emit a halo and from his head flows a stream of water. Atop this entrance is a ruined dharma “charka. There are innumerable pillars here, but mostly in ruins.
New Vihar Stupa
The relics of Sariputta and Mahameggallana, the two disciples of the Buddha, are said to have been kept in a stone vault buried under the stupa. The chaitya or prayer hall magnificent and resembles the old churches of Athens.
Stupa No 2
Located on the west of the Brihat stupa, it is simple, unadorned with four L-shaped entrances. The walls depict images of animals, human beings and tales. The vihar or monastery built by the wife of Ashok falls on the way.
It is the latest attraction built by the Buddhist community of Sri Lanka.The mortal remains of the disciple of the Buddha are placed here and at the foot of the mountain is an archaeological Museum.
Situated on the right of Brihat stupa the temple built during the reign of the Gupta kings (4th century) combines a garbha griha with a pavilion or mandap.
How to Reach Sanchi:
By Air: Nearest airport is Bhopal- 46 kms.
By Rail: Nearest railhead is Bhopal 46kms. Despite being a tourist centre, neither mail nor exp trains stop at Sanchi.
However, generally the trains except Shatabdi Exp come to a halt at the request of first-class passengers. Still, it is convenient to visit Sanchi from Bhopal.
By Road: There are both buses and trains to Sanchi from Bhopal.
Do’s and Don’t’s
- Beware of pickpockets, touts
- Always travel in taxis and autos by the meter. Never accept lifts.
- Don’t get friendly with locals.
- The majority of Indians remove their footwear when entering their houses. Because of strict religious and social customs, visitors must show particular respect when visiting someone’s home.
- Many Hindus are vegetarian.
- Many especially women, do not drink alcohol.
- Sikhs and Parsis do not smoke.
- Small gifts are acceptable as tokens of gratitude for hospitality.
- Women are expected to dress modestly.