a Buddhist by faith or not, Sanchi is a name that perhaps everyone must have
heard of. Though Buddhism had its genesis in India, its message and
philosophies reached far and wide. And today this system of beliefs has its
adherents across the globe. Devotees, tourists, researchers and historians
flock to Sanchi year after year to gain an insight into the way of life
called Buddhism. Sanchi is an accumulation of Buddhist stupas, monasteries,
temples and pillars. The site is mainly known for the stupa that was built
by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka during the 3rd century BC. During the
succeeding years that followed, more stupas, monasteries and temples were
erected here. However, with the decline of Buddhism, Sanchi went into a
state of oblivion. It was only in the year 1818 that a British officer
rediscovered the site. Between 1912 and 1919, Sanchi was carefully restored
to its present status by Sir John Marshall.
Location & Climate
Sanchi is situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The town lies 46 km east
of Bhopal, the capital city of the state. Summers are hot at Sanchi. Maximum
temperature during the season records 45 degrees Centigrade. During the
winters, temperature can plummet to a minimum of 10 degrees Centigrade.
November to February is the ideal time to visit here.
For the Buddhists, Sanchi has every reason to be visited. For
non-Buddhists, history is the reason. Sanchi is strewn with a number of
stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars belonging to the distant past. The
first and foremost to visit is the stupa built by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka
Ashoka's Stupa :
The Ashoka's stupa at Sanchi is the cynosure of all
eyes. The stupa was erected by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka during the 3rd
century BC. King Ashoka had a change of heart after the gory scene in the
battle of Kalinga and thus converted into a Buddhist. He later built a
number of pillars and stupas. Originally, there were eight stupas at Sanchi.
Unfortunately, only three stand today.
» ASI Museum :
The Archaeological Survey of India
(ASI) Museum is yet another big draw for tourists here. The museum displays
numerous antiquities belonging to the Mauryan Period. The artifacts
displayed also include a number of metal objects that were used by Buddhist
monks in the past. Ancient sculptures dating back between the 3rd and the
1st century BC can also be viewed here.
» Toranas or Gateways :
Erected in 35 BC, the four
toranas or gateways are fine representation of the early Buddhist art. The
gateways depict scenes from the life of Buddha. Some of the symbols on the
toranas include Lord Buddha's birth, his being enlightened under the Bodhi
Tree and even his footprints.
» Ashokan Pillars :
Sanchi is replete with
Buddhist pillars and remains of pillars. All the pillars bear some important
proclamations made by emperor Ashoka. For instant, the pillar lying close to
the Southern Gateway comes along with a warning against schism in the
Besides exploring the ancient Buddhist art at Sanchi, you can also visit
the nearby sites like Vidisha (12 km) and Udaigiri (13 km). These two sites
are known for their ancient architectural legacy and are important
Sanchi does not have too many accommodation options except for a few guest
houses and tourist lodges. However, tourists can stay at Bhopal where stay
options are plenty. Some famous hotels of Bhopal are as follows.
Hotels in Sanchi
¤ Jehan Numa Palace Hotel ( Heritage)
¤ Noor-us-Sabah Palace (Heritage)
¤ The Residency Hotel (4 Star)
¤ Lake View Ashoka (3 Star)
¤ Amer Palace (3 Star)
Bhopal, at a distance of 46 km, is the closest airport from Sanchi. The
airport at Bhopal has flights connecting to places like Delhi, Mumbai,
Chennai, Gwalior, Indore etc. Though Vidisha Railway Station lies at a
distance of 10 km from Sanchi, the major railway station is Bhopal. The road
network is well established linking Sanchi with Indore, Sagar, Gwalior,
Vidisha and Raisen.