India is home to many ancient religious monuments and sites. These monuments and sites are of great importance for archaeology, tourist visits and research works. They also reflect the cultural and traditional values as well as ancient scientific knowledge of Indian sub-continent. It is further interesting to know that India is also the birthplace of many religions. One such religion is Buddhism. There are many ancient religious monuments and sites of Buddhism in India. One of them is the Sanchi Stupa.
Who Discovered The Sanchi Stupa?
The Sanchi Stupa was first discovered by a British officer General Henry Taylor in 1818. He was the first western historian to discover the presence of Sanchi Stupa. He documented the existence of the Sanchi Stupa in 1818. At that time the Sanchi Stupa was in an abandoned state and was in a broken state. The restoration of the Sanchi Stupa began in 1912 under the supervision of Sir John Marshal. Almost all of the Stupa was restored and the structure became intact. Few artifacts of the Sanchi Stupa can be found in the western museum in Victoria and London.
The gateways of the Sanchi Stupa depicts the incidents from the life of Lord Buddha. His previous incarnations are also ornamented on the gateways. These incidents and stories were taken from the Jataka tales.
History of Sanchi Stupa
The Sanchi Stupa is a Buddhist monument and is extremely famous for its Great Stupa on the hilltop. It is situated at the Sanchi town in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The Sanchi Stupa is counted among the oldest stone structures of India. It reflects the great Indian ancient architecture.
The Sanchi Stupa was built by the greatest emperor of India, Ashoka in the 3rd century BC. Ashoka had ruled over the entire subcontinent of India between 268 to 232 BCE and this one of the many reasons why the Sanchi Stupa is counted among the important ancient monuments of India. The main ideology behind the construction of the Sanchi Stupa was to spread Buddhism. Ashoka redistributed the mortal remains of Lord Buddha and built many Stupas at different locations in India.
The structure of the Sanchi Stupa consists of a dome-shaped hemispherical edifice with the relics of Lord Buddha embedded on it. A “chhatri” (umbrella) like structure made up of stone covered the domed edifice. The dome edifice was surrounded by a wooden railing. The structure also includes a pillar made up of sandstone. The Schism Edict is there on this sandstone pillar. The construction of the Sanchi Stupa was supervised by the wife of Ashoka, Queen Devi.
The Sanchi Stupa was destroyed in the second century BC by Pushyamitra. Pushyamitra rose to power by killing the last Mauryan Emperor, Brihadratha Maurya and founded the Shunga Empire in entire North India. The Sanchi was reconstructed by Agnimitra, the son of Pushyamitra. The structure of the Sanchi Stupa was expanded during the Shunga dynasty. The dome was flattened and increased in size. Three umbrella-like structures were built and placed over the dome. It symbolized “dharma”.