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Things To Do In Sanchi
Sanchi is among the most important of all Buddhist monuments in India. Located in MP. It is well known for its Stupa which is now heritage property certified by the UNESCO. Built under commission of Emperor Ashoka in the 3rd Century BC, this stupa is perhaps the most famous of some 8400 stupas in the country. As in the case of the other stupas, the stupa at Sanchi also has a chamber which houses Buddha’s relics. There are several places to see and several things to do in Sanchi. Some of these are discussed below.
Offer Puja at Kamapaar Hanuman Mandir
The Kamapaar Hanuman Mandir is made for the worship of Lord Hanuman. The temple is located 4km from Sanchi Maha Stupa and is about 65 years old. The marble image was brought from Rajasthan. The image of Hanuman is always kept decorated with ornaments and in a well-dressed state. The true devotees of Hanuman are the thousands of local people who visit the temple regularly.
At Sanchi one will find Stupas as well as figures of monasteries and temples belonging to that era. While Temple 17 was built in 5th century by Gupta Dynasty, temple 18 though larger is now a relic with most parts missing. There were monasteries too. These were known as Viharas and there were seven of these. One of these viharas is monastery 51 which is located 7m away to the west of where the Great Stupa is located. Its plan is quite typical. There is an open courtyard which is surrounded by a number of cells for the monks and cloisters. The columns and roofs are lost and these must have been of wood.
Admire the Sanchi Stupa
Sanchi is all about its grand Stupas. The Sanchi Stupas are on top of a small hill in Sanchi about 9km away from Vidisha, the commercial town of ancient times. Stupa 1 is the Great Stupa or Mahastupa. There are several other stupas and temples and monasteries all scattered around Stupa 1. The entire area, now declared Heritage Site by UNESCO, lay deserted for several centuries till it was discovered in 1818 by a British General Taylor. The site was excavated fully during 1912 to 1919. It was revealed that all the construction at Sanchi was separated into the first period, from 3rd Century BC to the 1st Century BC and the second period which was from the 4th till the 11th century AD. While the first period was during the Shunga and the Satvahana Dynasties, the second period was after the Gupta Dynasty.
Visit Mata Mandir
The Mata Mandir is dedicated to Goddess Durga and is located about 4km from Sanchi on the Sanchi to Vidisha Road. The devotees come from the villages nearby and all the local population are regular visitors. The temple is attractive and quite simple. You will find a large number of worshippers and devotees during the time of the Nav Ratri festivals.
The Solemn Chetiyagiri Buddhist Temple
The Chetiyagiri Buddhist Temple is located near the Stupas in Sanchi and it contains the remains of two of the most important Buddhist monks who were the blessed disciples of Buddha, Sariputra and Maha Modgil or Moggallana. These remains were taken to England from where these were finally returned to India. The foundation of the new temple was laid by Pandit Nehru on 30th November 1952. The temple is managed by the Mahabodhi Society of Sri Lanka.
Check out the Exhibits at Sanchi Museum
A visit to the Sanchi Museum is a must. Here you will get to see the result of the conservation and excavation that was done at Sanchi starting with the work that commenced in 1919 by Sir John Marshall. The exhibits that were found then were all placed in a small museum and thereafter moved in 1966 to the new building they are in now. There are four galleries and a main hall in the museum. Some exhibits are also kept in the open courtyards and the veranda. Some of the exhibits are from Vidisha and other places but the bulk of the objects are from Sanchi.
The Gupta Temple
Though Sanchi is well known as the place which is associated with Buddhism, there is a Gupta Temple also in Sanchi which heralds the commencement of the temple architecture in India. The Gupta Temple was found in the intermediate layer among the three layers found in Sanchi hill. These 3 layers were the crowning shelf, the intermediate and the lower shelf. The Gupta Temple goes back to 5th Century AD. Since during the reign of the Guptas, India made phenomenal progress, the age is known as the Golden Age. You must see this temple since it occupies a special place in the temple architecture in the country.