Posted by on Jul 20, 2012 in Buddhism | 0 comments

Sanchi Buddhist Monuments art and architecture: Sanchi hosts the most famous and oldest Buddhist Stupa in the world.

Sanchi is world famous for stupas, monolithic Asokan pillar, temples, monasteries and sculptural wealth. This place can also be known as the Kakanava, Kakanadabota and Bota-Sriparvata in ancient times. You’ll find here the architectural geniuses from the early Mauryan period. It’s 40 kms from Bhopal, the site of Sanchi houses several Buddhist monuments perched atop a hill overlooking the plain. Construction of Sanchi Stupas were started by Emperor Ashoka between 272 B.C and 237 B.C, but surprisingly the construction performed by 12th century. Sanchi is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence, here you can observe monolithic pillars, palaces, temples and monasteries displaying the unique Buddhist architecture of this period.

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi

A Brief History of Sanchi Stoop

During the Sunga times, several edifices were raised at Sanchi and its surrounding hills. The most well-known of these monuments, the Sanchi Stupa 1 was originally built by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, the then governor of Ujjayini. The Ashokan stupa was enlarged and confronted with stones and decorated with balustrades, staircases and a harmika on the top. The reconstruction of Temple 40 and erection of Stupas 2 and 3 also appear to date back around the same time. During the 1st century BC, the Andhra-Satavahanas, elaborately carved the gateways to Stupa 1. From the 2nd to the 4th Century AD, Sanchi and Vidisha received the Guptas.

During the Gupta period some temples were built and sculptures were added. Shrines and monasteries were also constructed at the site during seventh and twelfth centuries AD. The Buddha`s surrounding Stupa 1 isn’t contemporary with the Stupa but fit in with the Gupta period in mid 5th century AD. The monastery and the temple with the tall pillars next to Stupa 1 and the temple near the monastery on the crowning shelf illustrate the evolution of the architectural form after the 5th century Gupta temple

After the 14th century, however, Sanchi remained deserted till 1818. But afterwards General Taylor, an english officer, discovered it. Later in 1912, Sir John Marshall, the Director General of Archaeology, ordered the restoration work on the site and established an archaeological museum in 1919. It was later transformed into the present site museum at Sanchi.

Site & Architecture

One of the essential things of attention is the fact that the Buddha is not represented whatsoever through figures at Sanchi. But rather through various symbols of his teachings he’s described, as it was the tradition in the early duration of Buddhism. The flower of lotus represents the birth of Buddha, the big tree signifies his enlightenment, the Wheel represents his first sermon and the Stupa finally represents his nirvana or salvation. The footprints and the throne are utilized to denote the Buddha’s presence.

It’s unique not only in its having the most perfect and well-preserved stupas but additionally in its offering a large and educative field for the study of the genesis, efflorescence and decay of Buddhist art and architecture for any period of about thirteen century, from the third century B.C. to the twelfth century, A.D., almost covering the whole selection of Indian Buddhism. This is rather surprising, for Sanchi wasn’t hallowed by any incident in Buddha’s life; not could it be known to have been the focus associated with a significant event in the good reputation for Buddhist monachism.

The most famous monuments at Sanchi include the Great Stupa No.1, one of the oldest stone structures in India which has a massive dome and was built by Emperor Ashoka. It had been rebuilt in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. It’s four, richly ornamented, gateways or Toranas. The Southern Gateway represents the birth of Gautum Buddha as Prince Siddhartha with dramatically rich carvings and is crowned by wheel of law, the Eastern Gateway, depicts the prince abandoning his palace to find enlightenment and the Western Gateway depicts the Seven incarnations of Buddha. Ashokan Pillar topped with a four lion sculpture that is the National Emblem of India was erected during the 3rd century BC here. You will find ruins of 4th century Gupta Temple to understand more about, which is one of the earliest known types of temple architecture in India. The Great Bowl carved from one block of stone is considered to be used as the food container for the monks of Sanchi.

Visit Sanchi to explore the real realm of Buddhism and experience the ambience of Sanchi and its succoring beauty which remains unrivaled.