Travel Special: Holy Mount, The Sanchi Stupa

The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the most crucial Buddhist monuments flashing gem of Buddhist art and architecture. Based at Sanchi Town, Madhya Pradesh, India, this Stupa is the oldest stone architecture in India that was made during the Mauryan period. Basically commissioned in the third century BCE by Emperor Ashok this colossal hemispherical dome with a height of 12.2816.46 m (54.0 ft) dwells of a central chamber where the artifacts of Lord Buddha are placed. Four exquisite gateways facing four directions and a handrail surrounding the Stupa were later added in the first century BCE.


A classic example of a Stupa and an accomplished illustration of the development of Buddhist art and sculpture starting from the third century BC through the twelfth century AD, the Sanchi Stupa brings hundreds of visitors from across the world. Inducted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1989, it is counted among the finest conserved ancient Stupas of central India.


The authority of the Buddhist vihara at Sanchi that adds the great Sanchi Stupa was laid by one of the greatest Indian Emperors, Ashoka of the Maurya Empire who reigned over almost the full Indian subcontinent from c. 268 to 232 BCE. He commissioned architecture of the Stupa here after redistributing the fatal remains of Lord Buddha so as to build several Stupas in distinct locations across India to spread Buddhism.


The current hemispherical edifice is double in diameter of the initial brick structure built by Ashoka, consisting of the fragments of Lord Buddha. A chatra that is an umbrella like structure made of stone inducted the hemispherical brick structure that was surrounded by a wooden railing. Queen Devi, wife of Ashoka and daughter of a merchant of Vidisha, who was born in Sanchi, managed the construction of this monument. A sandstone pillar, engraved with Schism Edict by Ashoka as also with beautiful spiral Brahmi characters from the Gupta period resembling conch shells referred as ‘Shankhalipi’ or ‘shell-script’ by scholars, was elevated in the site. While the lower portion of it is still grounded, the upper portions are kept under a canopy.

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