Monuments Of Sanchi

Sanchi, in Madhya Pradesh, is world famous for the ruins of stupas, temples and monasteries that lie scattered across a lonely hill. It is the largest and oldest Buddhist sanctuary in India.

The stupa was originally a burial or reliquary mound but later became a purely symbolic structure. In the beginning, stupas were built over the relics of Lord Buddha. Later, the Emperor Ashok built over 84000 stupas. The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest in India.

Sanchi continued to flourish after the Mauryas through several later dynasties. Magnificent gateways were constructed by successive rulers, four images of Buddha were added and more monasteries and temples were built. With gradual disappearance of Buddhism from India, the ruins of Sanchi lay forgotten, until they were discovered by an Englishman, General Tyler, in 1818 AD.

The best known and most elaborate amongst the stupas at Sanchi is the Great Stupa. It is part of an entire complex of structures, mostly stupas, built between the 3rd century BC and the 12th century AD. The evolved from being a structure built over relics of Buddha and his followers, to a symbol of the Buddha himself. More exactly, it became a symbol of his final release from the cycle of birth and rebirth. The Great Stupa, like other stupas, is a hemispherical dome. Its hemispherical shape represents the world egg. Stupas commonly rest on a square pedestal and are carefully aligned with the four cardinal points of the compass. The Great Stupa has a three tiered umbrella or parasol on top. The so called 'parasols', set one above the other, along the shaft emerging from its uppermost region, represent a heavenly hierarchy.

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