Sunday, June 28, 2015

Madhya Pradesh, the Heart of India - Sanchi, the Heart of Madhya Pradesh

Recently we were at Bhopal for a marriage. When we planned the trip, my wife had already ordered that we stay one additional day and visit Sanchi, an ancient Buddhist Site of high importance (read about it at - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanchi).

I had known about Sanchi for a long time and was happy that I would be able to visit it. On 12 th Jun we left Bhopal at 0830. Took Vidisha road. Stopped en-route for breakfast and reached Sanchi at about 1045 hrs. The road was good though not of Golden Quadrilateral type.

After taking a ticket of Rs 10 per person (which I guess doubles as ticket to Museum next to ticket counter and considered good, closed on Friday, day of our visit) we went up a small hill till the parking. As we walked in from parking through the complex gate, here it was, the famous site of Sanchi Stupa.



First Glimpse of Sanchi Stupa

We had seen the stupas in many photos, they were covered in school books too but the grandeur was beyond imagination. Once inside, we headed for Stupa 1, the main stupa constructed by Samrata Ashok the Great in 3rd century BC to retain some part of Ashes of Lord Gautam Buddha. Originally it is said to have been built by bricks. It was fortified by stone structure during Sunga dynasty in 2 century BC. Many other stupas, Viharas and Buddhist temples are there in this complex.

Stupa I

The circular enclosure and the ceremonial gateways (four, each in each direction) were made by Satvahana Kings. They are inscribed with carvings depicting Jatak Kathas (Stories from the life of Lord Buddha). In fact it may be worth while to read Jatak Kathas on the net prior visiting Sanchi to enjoy the gateways more.

One of the  Gateway


The Stupa II and III were also constructed during same period. They contained relics of disciples of Gautam Buddha. Stupa II was opened by British and the relics were taken to UK as personal Trophies. Later they were returned to Srilanka and finally to India. They are now at Sanchi at a different newly constructed temple just outside this site.

Stupa I has a stairway within its circular enclosure to climb up to second level to do Pradakshina of the Stupa. Well there is no entrance into the hemispherical stupa as the relics of Buddha are totally enclosed but the sight itself is worth visit.



Stairways to higher level circular path.

The Sarnath complex has three stupas, Many Viharas and many temples. The Ceremonial gateways of the stupa I are magnificent. In the radius of few Km there are few more buddhist sites but Sarnath is main one. Let me allow the my photographs to do the balance talking about Sanchi. One can see Ashoka Lions (the national emblem) also on one of the ceremonial gateways.


The beautiful carvings of Jatak Kathas are on the Gateways. As for Stupa their beauty is in the symmetry and its looks. See some of the carvings on various gates below:-











Though Buddhism is supposed to be free of cast or class, the stupas are there in different sizes, like Stupa I, II and III for Lord Buddha and his disciples while there are very small circular stupas, little bigger rectangular stupas etc for lesser monks.

There are also ruins of Viharas and Buddha Temples

Viharas


Buddha Temple





As for the place itself, it is well kept. Modern toilets are available.

Drinking water is available. It is friendly to Visually Challenged and Physically challenged (but of course the old stairways are what they are with no ramps). Has information boards, has a small canteen and a small zoo (an overstatement) which has few rabbits and few pigeons (white ones like Massakali song fame).

These Pigeons  when offered grains, eat out of your hands giving you a feeling of being in Jurong Bird Park in Singapore without spending that kind of money (and of course not the variety of birds though).

See the video



In fact the Squirrels at the canteen are also emboldened and pick out potato chips out of your hand very neatly.


The MPTDC  Gateway Retreat hotel is a good place to have lunch (good quality food) before returning to Bhopal. Sanchi is also a railway station between Vidisha and Bhopal where only passenger trains stop. Vidisha is a major town just 10 Km away.

Sanchi is a must visit place. You must visit it definitely if you are at Bhopal as Sanchi is worth the effort.

8 comments:

  1. You enjoyed visiting...I enjoyed reading the article. Quite informative !. I could see you in the pics ( always behind the camera .....). In this era of Selfie , Sir, camera ke samne bhi aa jao... I will certainly keep this article in mind when I visit. Thanks for sharing...

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    1. Happy to note hat you found it worthwhile.

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  2. Nice write-up. Even better photos. Want to visit this place soon :)
    And squirrels are permanent residents at all archaeological places in India!

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  3. That's right.. It was my observation too... Generally such experiences were at such sites.. .we had hand fed squirrels at the lodhi garden(near that pond)..... It's a very informative blog...

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  4. That's right.. It was my observation too... Generally such experiences were at such sites.. .we had hand fed squirrels at the lodhi garden(near that pond)..... It's a very informative blog...

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  5. wow..vivid descriptions and gorgeous pictures...it's very close to indore..want to visit after reading this post :)

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