Sanchi is not only a religious place but also has an Archaeological significance. Sanchi is a site for the numerous stupas which were built on a hill top. The place is related to Buddhism.Sanchi is the most evocative and attractive Buddhist site in India. Sanchi is primarily a place of Stupas and pillars but the gorgeous gateways add grace to the place. These gateways are beautifully carved and carry scenes from the life of Buddha or Ashoka. These gateways are the finest specimens of early classical art. The images carved on the pillars and the stupas tell moving story of the incidents from the life of Buddha.
Beside the main railway line , the great Sanchi Stupa sits on a gently rising hill. It was originally constructed by Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century B.C., and later extended. It is 16 metres high and 37 metres in diametre, with a railing surrounding it. There are four gateways to it through four toranas or gateways, which are themselves masterpieces of Buddhist art. The best preserved is the northern gateway, upholding a broken wheel of law, whereas the oldest is the southern gateway. Several pillars stand around Pillar No.10 was erected by Emperor Ashoka himself and is close to the southern entrance to the great stupa. Halfway down the hill to the west, sits a second stupa, with 'medallions' decorating the surrounding walls with lovely motifs. It contained relics of important Buddhist teachers, and it is because the teachers were lower in stature to the Buddha and his direct disciple, that this stupa is positioned lower than the great stupa. The third stupa stands north-east of the main stupa and although smaller, resembles the great one. It once contained the relics of two of Buddha's most important disciples. There are two other big stupas , one of them in very bad condition, and many small ones - some less than a metre high. To the south of the great stupa is a chaitya or hall, and a smaller temple, both reminiscent of Greek architecture. There are traces of wooden viharas or monasteries on the site.
Places to See :
The Four Gate Ways
The Four gateways constructed in 35 BC are the best from of Buddhist expression one can find any where in the world. Gateways or Torans as they are called are covered with explicit carving which depict scenes from the life Buddha and Jatakas, the stories relating to Buddha and his earlier births.
The Ashoka Pillar
The Ashoka pillars is one many pillars which are scattered in the area some of these are in broken and some in shape. The crown is the famous four lions which stand back to back. This figure was adopted as the national Emblem of India. The Ashoka pillars are an excellent example of he Greco-Buddhist style and is known for the aesthetic proportions and the exquisite structural balance.
Sanchi has been famous for the Stupas which were built on the top of a hill. The purpose of these stupas was mostly religious. The most likely use of the stupas has been said to keep the relics. Some of these stupas have been found containing relics of disciples of Buddha. The designs and the carvings on the walls and gates of these stupas spell a heavenly grace and are very tastefully done.
The archaeological survey of India maintains a museum which house many items which were discovered during the excavation of Sanchi area. Most prized possession of the museum is the lion crown from Ashoka pillar. The museum has a sizable collection of utensils and other items used by the monks who lived here.