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wikimedia commons (ASI no. monument)

Sanchi Stupa, restored

Buddhism was born in India in the 6th Century B.C. but gained prominence only during the Mauryan dynasty when Emperor Ashoka decided to follow it. In the aftermath of the Kalinga War, he decided to lead a peaceful life and even dedicated his children to Buddhism.

He commissioned the building of the Sanchi Stupa in the 3rd Century B.C., to commemorate Buddhism as one of India's religions. The Stupa at Sanchi is an impeccable sample of Buddhist art and architecture. The monument as it currently stands is not the original design. It was reconstructed many years later by another ruler who added features that exist today. The original was constructed with mud and mortar and was half the size.


The stupa is surrounded by gateways in each direction Image source: wikimedia commons (ASI no. monument)


The round dome represents a cosmic mountain, and the structure that holds a triple umbrella is symbolic of the jewels of Buddhism – Buddha, Dharma, and the Sangha. In the four cardinal directions, the structure of Buddha is placed in human form. Everywhere else, Buddha is represented by a symbol. Each of the four gateways represents a virtue: courage, love, peace, and trust.

The dome is laid with sandstone and rock, and along with the four gateways were a later addition. It is believed that during the Sunga age, Agnimithra, son of King Pushyamithra Sunga is credited with this reconstruction. They also built two other stupas in Sanchi.

The Sanchi Stupa or the Great Stupa of Sanchi is known as a symbol of the dharma or the Wheel of Law. It was lost for a while and rediscovered in 1818. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, protected under the Archaeological Survey of India.

Keywords: Sanchi, Stupa, Buddhism, Sunga Period, Ashoka


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