To experience Buddhist learning and propagation, one should definitely visit the great Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh which is also inscribed on the world heritage list by UNESCO. It is one of my favorite places to visit. The area not only covers stupas but also temples and pillars where inscriptions can be seen about how the Buddhist religion (Bodh Dharma) was spread by king Ashoka and his sons and daughters. The Sanchi hill was variously known as Vedisagiri, Chetiyagiri, Kakanaya from ancient times but by referring to the inscriptions, it was called Kakanaya or Kakinada. I am not 100% sure but according to the journey described in the inscriptions, it is probably the core where the Buddhist religion started. The symbol in the Indian flag is also referred from the period of Ashoka and called Ashoka Chakra which indicates peace.
Sanchi Stupa History
The buildings of the great sanchi stupa was started by king Ashoka also called as Ashoka the Great who was the most powerful king in the world in his period after Alexander the Great. He belonged to the Manurya Dynasty and was the grandson of famous king Chandragupta Maurya. In the early phase of his life, he was also called as Chanda Ashoka. He conquered many dynasties but an epic war with Kalinga changed his life.
Seeing death and destruction changed his heart to follow peace, fraternity and compassion. With one of his Vidisha’s wife named Devi and with her son and daughter, they spread Buddhist religion to different parts of the world describing Four Noble Truths of Gautama Buddha.
Architecture of Sanchi Stupa
The great sanchi stupa was built only on those places where Gautama Buddha visited. A hemispherical shape structure made with stone bricks consisting of 3 main stupas including temples called as Stupa-1, Stupa-2 and Stupa-3. The Stupa-1 is also called as the Maha Stupa which is the biggest one consisting of four gateways each having different inscriptions.
From the western gateway of the Maha Stupa comes the stupa-2 which is situated a bit downside of the hill where one has to walk about half a kilometer to reach there. Stupa-3 is located near Maha Stupa which was built by the Sungas in second century B.C. Further, there are several other small-sized circular stupas scattered everywhere at the site.
Sanchi Stupa Timings
Mon-Sun: 6:00AM – 6:00PM
How To Reach Sanchi Stupa
Flight – Sanchi is not served by any direct flights. The nearest airport is in Bhopal, which is around 50 km distant. To get to Sanchi, you can take a taxi from Bhopal. A taxi would set you back between INR 1000 and INR 1800.
Train – Sanchi has a small railway station with a few trains running through it. The nearest major railway station is Bhopal Junction, which is 50 km from the city.
Road – Sanchi has regular bus service to and from the city. They operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Bhopal, Indore, and other locations. For the same route, you can also take shared taxis or cabs.