Madhya Pradesh is considered to be the tourism capital of ‘Incredible India’ due to its various types of tourist destinations; from mountains to lain lands, from glorious Hindu temples to the fine Mughal architectural efficacies. Sanchi is another facade of the tourism industry of this central Indian state. This is a small village located at the Raisen district. Known for its Buddhist architectural buildings, Sanchi is easily accessible from the state capital of Bhopal. There is also a railway station located at Sanchi and the other nearest railway station is located at Vidisha.
The most important tourist spot of Sanchi is the Sanchi Stupa. There are three stupas here, Stupa 1, 2 and 3. The Sanchi Stupa 1 is considered to be the oldest stone architecture of India. It was constructed by Emperor Ashoka after he adopted Buddhism, in the 3rd century BCE. This semi hemispherical structure is built over the remnants of Lord Buddha and guarded by four gateways, also known as Toranas. The gateways are carved with stories from the earlier life of Lord Buddha and are known as the Jataka tales. The four symbols of the Stupa represent enlightenment, birth, parinirvana and the preaching of the first sermon.
The Stupa 2 is less decorated than the 1st stupa and is believed to be built under the rule of the Suganas. This stupa is not guarded by the gateways and also consist of several carvings of mythological figures, like yakshas, human figures with fish tails, nagas and makaras. Stupa 3 was constructed in the 2nd century BC. This stupa is significant as it contains two stone boxes, known as the Sariputra and the Mandgalyayana. The box of Sariputra consists of two fragments of a bone, some pearls, sandalwood, crystals and some other stones. The box of Mandgalyayana consist of a single bone.
Besides the Stupas, the Ashoka Pillar is another symbol of Buddhist architecture in the village. The unique feature of this pillar is that it has been carved out of a huge, single piece of stone; the stone is that of chunar sandstone. There are several Prakrit inscriptions. The Great Bowl is a huge stone bowl which was used to store and serve food for monks. This bowl has also been made from a single colossal stone piece. Another important pillar of the region is the West Pillar. There are several spiritual carvings on the pillar, like that of devotees, a Bodhi tree over a pedestal, flowers, deer park and others.
Visit the Buddhist Viharas to witness the life style of the Buddhist monks. These Viharas served as the central hub for communal activities. The single chambers served as the resting place for these Buddhist saints. The Modern monastery contains the relics of the Satdhara Stupa, stored in a glass casket. Last but not the least, do not miss a tour to one of the finest architecture of the Gupta period; the Gupta temple. It is located at the intermediate layer of the Sanchi hill. Visit Sanchi to feel the touch of peace and serenity.