Religious Places

Buddhist Temples Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh

Written by Sudhir Kumar

Buddhist Temples Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh

Sanchi is situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. It lies at a distance of approximately 52 km from the capital city of Bhopal and 10 km from Vidisha. The major attractions of Sanchi include a number of Buddhist stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars. All these structures date back to somewhere between 3rd century BC and 12th century AD. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka founded all the stupas at Sanchi in the honor of Lord Buddha. They have the distinction of being included by UNESCO in its list of World Heritage Sites.

About Buddhist Temples Sanchi :

The Buddhist Temples in Sanchi were built to commemorate the teachings of the Lord Buddha. These temples depict the architectural genius and have the carvings of Buddha in different poses indicative of the various stages towards attaining salvation. The temples make for an excellent tourist spot visited by a large number of tourists and hence are pretty impressive among the holy places in Sanchi.

The Stupa at Sanchi is one the most wonderful structures of ancient India. It has been included by the UNESCO as one of the heritage sites of the world. The Sanchi Stupa is a fine example of the development of the Buddhist architecture and sculpture beginning from the 3rd century B.C. to the 12th century A.D. The site of Sanchi was discovered in the year 1818 by General Taylor and an archaeological museum was established in 1919y Sir John Marshall.

History of Sanchi :

Sanchi emerges from obscurity to take centrestage as a hub for, first travelling merchants and then, Buddhist pilgrims rather early in India’s history. Sanchi had, even before it caught the eye of a certain king who made it famous, always been a bustling village, or rather traveller’s halt.Because, about 7km away, is Vidisha which had always been a strategic trade centre and a thriving town throughout history.In fact Sanchi’s ancient name was Vidishagiri, the hill of Vidisha. In the ancient Indian times, majority of the merchants of Vidisha followed Buddhism.

It is easy to see why Buddhism might have appealed to the level-headed businessmen of Vidisha – it was a way of life that was not burdened by caste restrictions and gave to everyone the freedom to attain the respectability which comes with wealth and social mobility.

We are told that rich merchants and patrons from Vidisha opened their ample coffers to pour in the money to sustain the religious life and building activity at Sanchi, dated around 2nd century BC to 1st century AD. For the Buddhist monks too the location was ideal. They could live in the calm and peaceful sanctuary of Sanchi (also called Chaitya-giri, the hill of Chaitya prayer halls) and walk to Vidisha, according to the tenets of Buddhism, to beg for alms and their daily food.

Other Attractions in Sanchi :

Sanchi is famous throughout the world for its stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars, which dates back to the 3rd century BCE to the 12th century BCE. Besides, the famous SAnchi stupa, the place has several other monuments as well.

  • The Stupas : Sanchi is a home to numerous stupas. Built on the top of a hill, these stupas contains relics, mostly of the Buddha’s disciples.
  • The Four GateWays : The four gateways, constructed in 35 BCE, are considered as the best Buddhist expression in the world. These gateways are covered with wonderful architectural carvings and depicts the stories related to the Buddha’s life.
  • The Ashoka Pillar : The Ashoka pillar, which contains four lions like that of Sarnath is found in Sanchi as well. An excellent example of the Greco-Buddhist style, the pillar is also known for its exquisite construction and perfect structural balance.
  • The Sanchi Museum : The Sanchi museum, which is run under the supervision of the Archaeological Survey of India, houses the Ashoka pillar along with other items found from areas of Sanchi such as utensils and other items used by the monks at Sanchi.

Location & Climate :

Sanchi is situated in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The town lies 46 km east of Bhopal, the capital city of the state. Summers are hot at Sanchi. Maximum temperature during the season records 45 degrees Centigrade. During the winters, temperature can plummet to a minimum of 10 degrees Centigrade. November to February is the ideal time to visit here.

How to Reach Buddhist Temples :

By Air: The nearest airhead is the ‘Raja Bhoj’ Airport, located in Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh. It is 46 km from Sanchi and is an important domestic airport of the state. Major airlines like Jet Airways (to Delhi, Indore and Mumbai), Air Deccan (to Delhi and Jabalpur) and Air India Regional (to Delhi, Mumbai, Indore and Gwalior) connect the airport to other important places in India. The only international airline is Air India, which operates flights to Dubai and Sharjah.

By Rail: The nearest railhead from Sanchi is also located in Bhopal. Bhopal is one of the two major Delhi-Mumbai railway lines and is an important junction of the West Central Railways. It is also the terminus of the Shatabdi Express, which daily shuttles between Delhi and Bhopal. Various express trains ply between Bhopal and cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Agra, Gwalior, Jhansi and Ujjain. One can reach Bhopal by train and avail a bus/ car from there, for reaching Sanchi.

By Road: Travelling to Sanchi by road is very convenient. The road networks that link Sanchi to places in and around Madhya Pradesh are well-laid and well-maintained. These motor able roads connect Sanchi to places like Bhopal (46 km), Vidisha (10 km) and Indore (232 km). There are regular tourist buses (deluxe/ non deluxe) that motors between Bhopal and Sanchi. Various tour operators also provide private taxis and cabs for travelling to Sanchi.

City: Sanchi
State: Madhya Pradesh
Location: Central India
Year of Construction: 220BC to 236AD
Type of Construction: Ancient
Type of Building: Pilgrimage Center
Dedicated To: Gautam Buddha
Religion: Buddhism
Famous For: Sculptures, crafted only two or three hundred years after the historical Buddha left,  Ashoka Pillars, Sanchi Stupa
Best Time: October and March

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Sudhir Kumar

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