46km from Bhopal in the state of Madhya Pradesh is located the world famous Buddhist site of Sanchi the remains of which are among the finest relics of early Buddhism dating from 3nd century BC. The Great stupa at Sanchi is hailed as the crowning achievement of early north Indian sculpture.
Much of the Pali canon of the Sthaviravadin sect of Buddhism has from the great monastery in the UNESCO listed world heritage site of Sanchi. Located within a radius of 20 km Sonari, Satdhara, Andher and Mural Khurd are home to the ruins of ancient Buddhist stupas.
Places of attractions
The Great Sanchi Stupa
Today the Great Sanchi Stupa survives to be awe-inspiring spectacles for the pilgrims and tourists who throng to them. It is a massive hemisphere of about 120 feet in diameter. Towards the end of the 1st century BC four glorious gateways (torana) were added at the four cardinal points. The stupa was enlarged to twice its original size in the 2nd century AD. Lesser stupas and monastic buildings surround the great stupa.
The Sanchi gateways, carved with great skill, are more remarkable for their carved ornamentation than their architecture. Carved with a several figures and reliefs, each gateway consists of two square columns, above which are three architraves supported by massive elephants or dwarfs, the whole reaching some 34 feet above ground level. The architraves are covered with panels depicting sense from the life of the Buddha and Jataka stories. The finish is remarkably good and the carvings are among the fresh and vigorous of the Indian sculpture.
The Ashokan Pillar
Erected by the Greatest Maurayan emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BC, the Ashokan pillar, located in the vicinity of the Southern gateway of the Great Stupa is a fine specimen of the Indian architecture and art in ancient times.
How to Reach
Air: The nearest airport to Sanchi is Bhopal which is 46 km from the place. You can find taxis and other means of transportation from the airport to reach Sanchi. However, if you go to Sanchi via Raisen you will have to cover 78 km.
Rail: Sanchi has a railway station that lies on the Jhansi-Itarsi section of the Central railways. However, the nearest major railway stations to Sanchi are Vidisha and Bhpal which are 10 km and 46 km away. One can get buses and taxis to reach Sanchi.
Road: A good network of road connects Sanchi to all the nearby places including Bhopal, Vidisha and Raisen which are, in turn, connected by roads with other places in India.
Best time to visit
During summers the temperatures are extreme in Sanchi. The best time to visit Sanchi is from October to March