Buddhism, an Indian religion that started in the 5 th century BCE, is based on teaching attributed to the Buddha. Meanwhile, Buddhism is the set of principles that helps you to improve your life, and those who suffer from dissatisfaction can deserve Moksha. So, to attain peace there is a great stupa that has been the focal point of the Buddhist faith in the region since when it was constructed by the Great emperor King Ashoka in the 3 rd century BC.
This Great stupa’s grand structure still inspires millions of people today and stands at the top of the hill, that is surrounded by the remains of smaller stupas, monasteries, and some temples that were also built as the religious community that grew over the centuries after the Buddhist site was founded.
The great stupa is known as the Sanchi Stupa, one of India’s oldest stone structures built during the Mauryan period. The sculptures, monuments and lush gardens of Sanchi Stupa have been announced as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1989.
Furthermore, Sanchi is just a small village located in Madhya Pradesh, Bhopal. The place is very famous and attracts tourists from worldwide to see the ancient stupas, the monasteries, and an amazing Buddhist culture. The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one the best-preserved Stupas till yet, with decorated entrances that attract thousands of tourists and pilgrims.
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You know, the original Ashokan stupa was half the size built from large bricks and mud mortar. It is said that by using that they made the terraces at the base, and was enclosed by a wooden railing, crowned by the stone umbrella. However, the stupa was enlarged using local sandstone during the Sunga period, which started 50 years after Ashoka’s death.
Let’s take a look at the Sanchi Stupa, the main body of the stupa represents the cosmic mountain. It is topped by a harmika, to hold the triple umbrella, or chhatraveli, which represents the three parts of Buddhism, the Buddha, the Sangha, and the Dharma. Moreover, the gateways built at the four points are the highlights of the structure with a series of deep carving that represents the Buddhist symbols and their historical significance. You know Buddha is always shown in these carvings as a symbol, not as a human. And on the gateways, he is represented as a horse without a rider, an umbrella above an empty throne, the Bodhi tree, or as the footprints.
You know, according to legend stories, the great King Ashoka, who was the first king to embrace Buddhism and he ruled over most of the Indian subcontinent from 269 – 232 B.C.E, created 84,000 stupas and divided the Buddha’s ashes among all of them. And the stupas were built by Ashoka some 250 years after the Buddha’s death, it is clear that Ashoka was responsible for building many stupas across northern India and the other territories under the Mauryan Dynasty that is now another country called Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
However, Ashoka’s main aim to build stupas was to provide the new converts with the tools to help with their new faith and belief. Meanwhile, Ashoka was following the directions of the Buddha who, before his death buddha directed that stupas should be built in place those associated with the key moments of his life so that the hearts of many people shall be made calm and glad. So that Ashoka also built stupas at those places where the people might have difficulty reaching the stupas that had the ashes of Buddha.
Let’s read some facts about Sanchi Stupa.
- Sanchi Stupa was constructed by Emperor Ashoka and instructed by his queen Devi and daughter Vidisha.
- Sanchi Stupa remained abandoned and undiscovered from the 14 th century until the year 1818 when a British officer General Taylor rediscovered the site. And then John Marshall established an archaeological museum in 1919 here which is called Sanchi Museum, still present today.
- The pillar of Sanchi Stupa has an inscription of the Ashokan period written on it called Schism Edict. It also has an inscription in the ornamental Sankha Lipi style from the Gupta period.
- It is the oldest stone structure in India that has ever been found.
- The famous Ashoka pillar consists of four lions and is also found in Sanchi. These pillars are built in a Greco-Buddhist style.