Sanchi Stupa is one of the greatest gateways of India and one of the most important Buddhist monuments, located around 46 km away from Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh (a large state in central India) on the hilltop of Raisen district. It is the oldest stone structure in India with a group of Buddhist monuments and is a part of UNESCO World Heritage. An axis connecting heaven and earth is said to run through Madhya Pradesh. The Great Stupa (a stupa is a dirt burial mound faced with stone) of Sanchi, is known for its three Stupas, out of which, the first and the last were commissioned by Emperor Ashoka, of the Maurya dynasty in the third century BC. The Sanchi Stupa is one of the greatest landmarks and a gem to the Buddhist sanctuary, reflecting Buddhist art and architecture and is built by the stones in the Mauryan Period and flourished till 11th century. The expansion of the Stupa extended till Shunga dynasty, which took over the Maurya dynasty. Later three more dynasties evolved, namely, Saatavahana, Kushana and the Gupta period whose presence can be seen in the monumental inscriptions of Sanchi Stupa.
The Stupa is built in a domed shaped structure over the precious relics of Buddha and serves as a marker for a sacred space. It is also known as the mountain home of the God at the centre of the universe. The chatra (parasol or an umbrella) is crowned over the Stupa, symbolizing the high rank which was intended to honour and protect the remains of Buddha.
The hemispherical brick structure of the Sanchi Stupa, compassed with the four gates known as Toranas , are the oldest and majestically free gateways in the country. They are the most important component of architecture and not only hold high importance in our country but also serve as a source of inspiration internationally. The gateway of China known as the Paifang gateway, the Torii gateway of Japan and the Hongsalun gateway of Korea – all follow the same architectural style of Torana in Sanchi with a little bit of modification.
Toranas: The entire gateway is covered with extensive narrative sculptures, some depicting the life of Buddha. Each gate symbolizes emotions of joy, trust, love, fearlessness, and peace. These monumental gates have always been a reflection of prosperity for Kingdoms. The inscriptions on these gigantic gates are known for their own kind, though made up of stones they resemble the artwork to that on timber.
Many other monuments in Sanchi attract large number of people from various places, these may include Ashoka Pillar, Archaeological Museum, Buddhist monasteries, Chetiyagiri Vihara, temples and viharas, Gupta temple and many others.
The Sanchi Stupa is a combination of peace and power, an eternal bliss of a spirit in architecture and the perfect destination to soak into spirituality.
Ras Al Khaimah