Sanchi Stupa Madhya Pradesh India

Sanchi Stupa Madhya Pradesh India

Sanchi is unique in having the most perfect and well – preserved stupas anywhere in India.

These monuments record the genesis, efflorescence and decay of Buddhist art and architecture from the third century BC to the twelfth century AD, almost covering the whole range of Indian Buddhism.

It is located near Bhopal in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The Stupa is a wonderful testimony to the artistic skill of Buddhist monks.

The foundation of the great religious establishment at Sanchi, destined to become an important centre of Buddhism for many centuries, was probably laid by Asoka, when he built a stupa and erected a monolithic pillar here.

The stupas are large hemispherical domes containing a central chamber, in which the relics of Buddha are placed. The stupas at Sanchi traced their development from the 3rd century BC to 12th century AD and represent finest example of Buddhist architecture and sculpture.

Its nucleus was a simple hemispherical brick structure built over the relics of the Buddha. It was crowned by the `Chhatra`, a parasol – like structure symbolising high rank, which was intended to honour and shelter the relics.

It is well accepted that the structures of Sanchi Stupa are the most organized construction, which went into the engineering of temples in the mediaeval period. The framework of Sanchi Stupa reflects people`s love for nature. General Studies Question Bank CD

The most frequently shown flower in the various structures is lotus, which symbolizes a particular meaning. As lotuses grow from the mud in the bottom of water body but produces a beautiful white blossom, Buddhist believe that like lotuses people can also rise to from the mud of materialism to the sunlight of spiritualism.

The decoration of the stupa gateways also includes male and female tree spirits. The female tree spirits are the symbols of fertility, which often clutch overhanging trees full of flowers and fruits. Buddhists use them as welcoming figures on the gateways.

The interest places at Sanchi Stupa Madhya Pradesh

Sanchi Stupa Four Gateways : The four gateways in the Sanchi Stupa were constructed during 35 BC and are thought to be best forms of Buddhist architectural expression in the world. The gateways are called `Toranas` and are covered with explicit carving, which depicts scenes from life of Buddha and Jataka, the stories related to life of Buddha and his earlier births. Although made of stone they were carved in the manner of wood.

Sanchi Stupa Ashoka Pillar : The Ashoka pillars were raised up by the great Ashoka, which are now mostly broken and only few are in shape. The crowns of the pillars contain four lions standing back to back, which is adopted as the national emblem of India. The Ashoka pillars are an excellent example of Greco-Buddhist style and are known for their aesthetic proportions and exquisite structural balance.

Sanchi Stupa Stupas : Sanchi is famous for the stupas which were built on the top of the hill. The purpose of these stupas was mostly religious. The stupas were probably used for keeping the relics. Some of these stupas contain relics of disciples of Buddha.

There are exquisite carvings on the walls of the stupas and the most unique feature is that Buddha is not depicted as human figure in anywhere in Sanchi Stupa, instead he was represented by some symbols like horse on which he left his palatial life or by footsteps. Some of the friezes of Sanchi also show devotees in Greek attire.

In the later times, early Hindu structures were added over the old Buddhist structures. Temple seventeen can be cited as an example of Buddhist structure. It consists of a flat roofed square sanctum with a portico and four pillars.

The interior and three sides of the exterior are plain and undecorated but the front and the pillars are elegantly carved, giving the temple an almost `classical` appearance.

The Archaeological Survey of India maintains a museum, which house many items which were discovered during the excavation of Sanchi area. Most treasured possession of the museum is the lion crown from Ashoka Pillar. The museum has a large collection of utensils and other items used by the monks who lived here.

Presently Sanchi Stupa is under UNESCO project and is declared as World Heritage Site.
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