The Sanchi Stupa
Located in Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh Sanchi is a small village. It houses several Buddhist monuments built between 3rd century and 12th century.
One of the first stone structures in India is the Great Stupa at Sanchi, which people visit from all over the world. On the relics of Buddha a hemispherical brick has been used and crowned by a chatra. It was built to honor and shelter the relics.
The names by which Sanchi is popular are Kakanava, Bota-Sriparvata, Kakanadabota and Kakanaya. Emperor Ashoka laid the foundation of Sanchi and made it a religious center.
The Sanchi hill goes up in shelves with Stupa 2 situated on a lower shelf, Stupa 1, Stupa 3, the 5th century Gupta Temple No.17 and the 7th century temple No. 18 are on the intermediate
shelf and a later monastery is on the crowning shelf.
The balustrade surrounding Stupa 2, carved with aniconic representations of the Buddha, was added in the late 2nd century BC under the Satavahanas.
The adjacent Gupta temple no.17 was hailed by Sir John Marshall as one of the most rationally organized structures in Indian architecture. Though small, it was a herald of all the principles which went into the engineering of an Indian temple in the early medieval period.
The Buddhas in the perambulatory surrounding Stupa 1 are not contemporary with the Stupa but belong to the Gupta period in the mid-5th century AD. The monastery and the temple with the tall pillars adjacent to Stupa 1 and the temple near the monastery on the crowning shelf illustrate the evolution of the architectural form after the 5th century Gupta temple.
A Chunar sandstone pillar fragment, shining with the proverbial Mauryan polish, lies near Stupa I and carries the famous edict of Ashoka warning against schism in the Buddhist community.
Stupa 1 was found empty, while relics of the two disciples of Buddha enshrined in the adjacent Stupa 3 were carried away to England.
The nearby modern temple has a reliquary containing the remains of a Buddhist teacher from another Stupa outside Sanchi.