For followers of Buddhism, Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh is a pilgrim center. For History lovers, Sanchi is an ancient land with a number of interesting destinations that stand proof of its rich past. Sanchi houses Great Stupa, which is the country’s oldest stone structure. After the decline of Buddhism in this part of the world, Sanchi seemed to be out of the map until it was rediscovered by General Taylor, a British officer. Declared by UNESCO as the ‘World Heritage Site’ in the year 1989, Sanchi attracts tourists from all over the world. Here are the top 5 places to visit in Sanchi.
1. The Great Stupa
Stupas naturally come to your mind if you think of Sanchi. The stupas here are stunning specimen of the architectural excellence of the past. Great Stupa, which is Sanchi’s first stupa, was constructed in 3rd century BC by Emperor Ashoka. The exquisite carvings in the stupa boast of the craftsmanship involved in its making. The Great Stupa is situated on a hill at a height of about 300 feet. The 71 feet tall stupa looks spectacular as you view from afar. Visiting Great Stupa would be a beautiful beginning to tour Sanchi; yes, you would feel as if you are revisiting history.
2. Udayagiri Caves
Nothing could be more interesting than viewing the works of the past. Withstood the test of times or in ruins, historic monuments always draw your attention. They not only allow you to look into the past but make your imagination go wild as you walk down the path that was treaded by angels and devils, victorious and the defeated, magnanimous and the cruel characters in history. Udayagiri Caves, a group of 20 caves, make an interesting presentation of the past. Sculptures representing Hinduism and Jainism from Gupta Era are seen in the caves. The caves date back to a period between 4th and 5th century AD. Some of the caves are located at the top of the hill while most are located in the foothill. Giant Narasimha sculpture attracts the most.
3. Ashoka Pillar
Life of Emperor Ashoka has lots of tell to power mongers. Rarely such examples are seen in the past when an emperor as mighty as Ashoka decided to travel the path of angels by calling an end to war to conquer land. He had conveyed his message loud and clear by building pillars across his kingdom. The pillars ranged between 40 to 50 feet in height. Near the southern gateway of Sanchi Stupa stands the famous Ashoka Pillar of 3rd century BC. The pillar represents elegance, creativity and exquisite architecture. Built in Greco Buddhist style, the 16.4 meter tall pillar with Four Lions had been given a stunning polish making the pillar brilliantly shine till to date.
4. Sanchi Museum
Sanchi Museum is the right place to learn more about the history of the place. The museum houses excavated objects that are over 2000 years old. Since it has a stunning collection of antique that belongs to various dynasties, you get to learn more about the lifestyle of the people belonging to various cultures.
5. Gupta Temple
Constructed in the 5th century AD, Gupta Temple in Sanchi stands proof of the architectural excellence of the Gupta period. It also reflects the integrity that prevailed among people belonging to various faiths for the temple was constructed in a land that was predominantly a Buddhist pilgrim center. The structural beauty of the temple so captivated Sir John Marshall that he considered it one of the most logical designs. The temple is a must visit destination in Sanchi.
The stupas, temples and monuments in Sanchi deserve more description. Lack of time while on tour dampened my traveling spirit but I am thirsty for more information. Do share information with me if you have had the privilege of visiting more places in Sanchi.