Sanchi is a Buddhist complex, famous for its Great Stupa, on a hilltop at Sanchi Town in Raisen District of the State of Madhya Pradesh in India. It is located 46 kilometres north-east of Bhopal – state capital of Madhya Pradesh.
The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India, and an important monument of ancient Indian Architecture.
It was crowned by the Chhatri – a parasol-like structure – symbolising high rank, which was intended for honouring and sheltering the relics.
The original construction work of this stupa was overseen by Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, whose wife Devi was the daughter of a merchant of the nearby Vidisha. Sanchi was also her birthplace as well as the venue of her wedding with Ashoka.
In the 1st century BCE, four elaborately carved Toranas (Ornamental Gateways) and a balustrade encircling the entire structure were added.
The Sanchi Stupa built during the Mauryan period was made of bricks. The composite flourished until the 11th century.
Sanchi is the center of a region with a number of Stupas, all within a few miles of Sanchi.
Sanchi Stupa is depicted on the reverse side of the Indian currency note of Rs 200 to signify its importance to India’s cultural heritage.
Ashoka Pillar :
A pillar of finely polished sandstone, one of the Pillars of Ashoka, was also erected on the side of the main Torana gateway. The bottom part of the pillar still stands erect. The upper parts of the pillar are at the nearby Sanchi Archaeological Museum.
Jataka Tales of Buddhism :
Various Jatakas tales are illustrated on the walls. These are Buddhist moral tales relating edifying events of the former lives of Gautama Buddha.