Madhya Pradesh

Sanchi- A pride of Madhya Pradesh

April,2017

Sanchi a relic commissioned by Ashoka whose wife Devi belonged to Vidisha which is 20 KM from Sanchi. It was my second visit. First visit was in Sep,1989.
Really speaking I had a wish to see Pyramids of Egypt and this desire was fulfilled for me and I got the same proud of feeling to have visited such great-great place. We must pay high respect to John Marshal and then ASI department to keep such relics alive for visitors who throng here be in summer or winter or rainy season. An interesting fact is that Devi was abondoned by Ashoka on account that his father Bindusar was not ready to accept her as queen as she was not from a royal family but daughter of a merchant. Mahendra and Sanghmitra were daughter of Devi.

Location

Sanchi is 55 KM from Bhopal and well connected by road (AC buses and taxis) and rail. Nearest airport is Bhopal.

 

Railway St- If you are from a big city then spend about 5 hrs at this railway station and feel the nostalgic joy. I bet you will enjoy and remember.

Where to stay

Though Sanchi has very good MPSTDC hotel but I suggest to book MPSTDC hotel (jungle resort) at Udaigiri as both these places are only about 15 KM apart. Better stay in Udaigiri resort for 2 nights to enjoy ancient Uday giri caves and trek around hills of Madhya pradesh. It will be heaven place in rainy season. The hotel is great with all hospitality.

Our Itinerary

If you aim to visit Sanchi only then it is possible to cover Sanchi, Uday giri and Bhojpur temple and even Bhimbetka in one day. But it will be very hectic and you may not feel the place as well.

Day 1: Morning 8 AM visited 14 Ujjain temples (8 hrs).
Day 2 : Visited Jantar mantar Ujjain, Brith Hari caves, Vetaal Sinhasan and Triveni museum. Stay at Uday giri hotel of MPSTDC.
Day 3 : Visited Uday giri caves from 7.30 AM (2.5 hrs) and headed for Sanchi by Taxi (18 KM). Spent 2.5 hrs at Sanchi. Reached Bhopal by 8 PM.
Day 4 : Started for Bhimbetka 10 AM and on way Bhojpur temple. Reached Bhimbetka. Came back to Bhopal by 7 PM.

Ujjain-Udaigiri caves-Sanchi-Bhopal-Bhojpur temple-Bhimbhetaka-Bhopal

List of main tourist places in Madhya Pradesh and Chhatishgarh

Though these states are having many places to visit but just listing here a few important ones listed by Madhya Pradesh Tourist Department.

MPSTDC Tourist map

Stupa 1

Around 230 BC there used to live a rich merchant in Vidisha. When Ashoka,Viceroy of Vidisha  halted at Vidisha during his visit to Ujjayani he met this merchant and married his daughter named Devi. So Vidisha was wedding place of Ashoka. Historically it is interesting that Mauryan empire was finding it unfitting to accept daughter of a merchant to be Ashoka’s wife so Ashika had to be separate from her. But she was mother of Mahendra and Sanghmitra. Devi had established a monastery at Sanchi hillock. Years later when Ashoka’s son, Mahendra visited Vidisha. Devi took him to show her monarsty. Mahendra stayed here for a month. Later Ashoka brought it up and laid foundation of Sanchi stupa and erected a monolithic pillar. As guilde told Ashoka brought some relics, ash and teeth of Buddha from Rajgir and built the stupa 1.

Stupa 1 South gateway side

Later when Ashoka’s heirs weakened and Sunga dynasty (Pushymitra) king killed last Mauryan empror Brahdarth in a guard of honour. Later Pushymitra Sung tried to demolish Ashoka stupa but again it was restored by his son Agnimitra. Shunga dynasty was hindu Brahmin but they were tolerant to Buddhism and built Stupa 2 and stupa 3. Further staircase and passage was built by Satvahan kings in 1st century AD.

Since nearby place Vidisha was rich a few merchants contributed to embellishment of the stupa and therefore their sculpture on life of the Buddha will have their names inscribed on it. That is why there are repetition of stories in toranas (ornamental door).

During Satvahans the gateways of Stupa 1 and 3  were elaborately carved. There was a revival of activity at Sanchi during the reign of Guptas who after conquering Kshatrapa in 400 AD used Mathura sand stone sculputure here.

Stupa 2

Dates to 2nd century BC. It was found in entire by Captain Fell in 1819 but was later partly destroyed by various archaeologists. The stupa consists of a plain hemispherical dome with no gateways and external decorations, differently from Stupa 1 and Stupa 3. Instead of gateways, ‘medallions’ of flowers, plants, real and fanciful animals,

Stupa 2 on right and Stupa 3 on left. Well maintained huge gardens around.

people and demigods decorate the surrounding wall – naive in design, but full of energy and imagination.

Stupa 3

Stupa 3 though much smaller than Stupa 1 in dimension it was modeled after Stupa 1. It has only one Gateway and its dome is more hemi spherical. This stupa crowned by a single umbrella was built along with staircase in 2nd century BC not long after reconstruction of Stupa 1.

Stupa 3 full view and remnant of Stupa 4 sideby

As per guide this stupa is important due to fact that archaeologist Cunningham had found the relics (bones,seven beads, pearl, sandalwood) of Buddha, Sariputra and Maudgalyayana, the two disciples of Lord Buddha. The relics were found in stone boxes inscribed with names. The lids are now in site museum.

Stupa 3

The boxes were written in ink as “sa” and “ma” which are interpreted as Sariputra and Maudgalyayana.

Stupa 4

It is of 2nd century BC and now exists only in heap as shown above.

Other Stupas
Almost all the stupas except 1, 2 and 3 are now heap of bricks. As per guide these stupas contain the relics of different monks and sizes vary as per their knowledge and status.

Other stupas

 

Temple 17

It is probably one of the earliest Buddhist temples as it dates to the early Gupta period. It stands on low moulded basement. The capital of portico pillars bearing 4 lions each with two bodies.

Between the lions,which are at corners, is a tree. Now there is no image inside the temple. Earlier it had a Buddha image seated on lotus throne supported by 2 lions. This temple faces South gate (main) of Stupa 1.

Temple 17- A piece of Gupta architecture. Known for structural propriety, symmetry,logical proportions

 

Temple 18

It is built on the foundation of a hall of Mauryan or Sunga temple. This temple had 12 pillars. Temple faces South gate (main) of Stupa 1. Now I did not see any thing in this except pillars. As per guide this architectural additions were happening till even till 11th century and so was in use.

Temple 18- 7th century. Originally had 12 pillars and built on foundation dias of Maurya or Satvahans

 

Temple 45

It was the last Buddhist temple built during the mid to late 9th century. Another point to be noted that at that time the monuments were enclosed within a wall. With the decline of Buddhism in India, the monuments of Sanchi went out of use and fell into a state of disrepair. In 1818, General Taylor of the Bengal Cavalry recorded a visit to Sanchi. At that time the monuments were left undisturbed and were in a good condition.

View of Temple 45

Temple 45- 7th or 8th century and later erected on this in 9th or 10th century. The pieces are collected, numbered by research team and planned to re-erect the temple to original state.

 

Nagi figure on southern platform of temple 45 dates to 4th century AD. It is moved from somewhere else and erected here.

Image of Buddha in a verandah to south of temple 45

Gateways

I saw 4 gateways (Torana) at Stupa 1 named as North, South, East and West. All these gateways date to first century BC of which earliest is South gateway.  Guide told that this is probably principal gate as staircase of Stupa 1 opens here as well as Ashoka pillar is also kept near this gate.
The workers of these gateways must be wood, iron, ivory and metal workers from nearby Vididha.

Each gateway consists of square pillars crowned by a set of four lions,elephants and dwarfs supporting a substructure with different expression of bearing pains of load.
Height of gateways is 28 feet.

 

 

North gateway

South gateway

Description of South Toran

Description of East Toran

Monastries

There are several monastries around the temple 47. These monastries are numbered from 43 to 46.

Monastry 46

Similarly there is one monastry by the side of temple 17  as well as a big monastry at south end of the premises.

Monastry 51

Monastry 51 donation patra – Famous asmentioned by guide as well as in ASI book

Pillar 10

This is the earliest pillar erected by Ashoka the Great. Of this only lower part is intact while upper part is kept aside. It had a capital of 4 lions and an unfolded lotus, “Government symbol of India” is placed in Museum. This pillar is made of Chunar sandstone and is monolithic. A warning is inscripted in pillar for monks and nuns who try to create schism in Buddhist religion.

Pillar 10

Pillar 10 which was damaged by a local sugarcane merchant in 1st century BC

Pillar 25

This was built during Sunga period in 1st century BC. Its shaft is octogonal below and 16 sided above. It had 4 lions and inverted lotus which is now kept in museum.

Pillar 26

This pillar was imitation of Ashoka pillar. It has square base and circular above. It had 4 lions and inverted lotus which is now kept in museum.

Buddha teeth is kept here. Every November end it opens for “darshan”.

Epilogue

Sanchi is unique in having the most perfect and well preserved stupas any where in India.These monuments record the genesis, efflorescence and decay of Buddhist art and architecture over 1300 years – covering whole range of Buddhism -Archaeological Survey Of India.

It is surprising and interesting that Hiuen Tsang visited India during 7th century and wrote all details of Buddhism but why was silent about Sanchi. As per the texts and excavations by 7th century all Sanchi stupas was as developed as we see today and was under continuous development.

The only record of Sanchi is in chronicles of Sri Lanka known as Mahavamsa and Dipavamsa which talks about his marriage with Devi at Vidisha and founding of Sanchi Stupa.

The travellers

Categories: Madhya Pradesh

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> 

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
shares
error: Content is protected !!