The Sanchi hill goes up in shelves with Stupa 2 situated on a lower shelf, Stupa 1, Stupa 3, the 5th century Gupta Temple No.17 and the 7th centurytempleNo. 18 are on the intermediate shelf and a later monastery is on the crowning shelf. The balustrade surrounding Stupa 2, carved with aniconic representations of the Buddha, was added in the late 2nd century BC under the Satavahanas.
Built, vandalized, rebuilt, lost and rediscovered the Stupas of Sanchi stand a silent yet powerful testimony to the efficacy of the philosophy of inner resilience and strength, taught by Buddha and followed in monasteries from the Himalayas to America.
This tiny Nagar Panchayat in the Raisen district some 45 kms from Bhopal, is the location of a series of Buddhist monuments, the oldest of which are said to be commissioned by Asoka the great of the Mauryan dynasty in the 3rd Century BC, however additions were made to this site as late as the 12th century AD.
The oldest of the structures here is the Stupa one, it is this structure that is said to have been vandalized by Pusyamitra Sunga of the Sunga dynasty before being rebuilt by his son Agnimitra, during the following rule of the Sunga the stupa was expanded with stone slabs to almost double its original size.
With the decline of Buddhism, the stupas went out of use and fell into a state of disrepair before being rediscovered by a British officer around 1818, however amateur archaelogists and treasure hunters kept ravaging the place before restoration work was initiated and the Stupas restored to their present condition in 1919. Today the three stupas and the various temples here constitute a part of UNESCO world heritage sites.
Grandeur, respect, contempt and reverance the Sanchi hill has seen it all, ironically it is just the message conveyed by the various chakras that symbolise dharma or the everturning wheel of law.
Must see places: Great Stupa No. 1, The Eastern Gateway, The Western Gateway, The Northern Gateway, The Southern Gateway, The Ashoka Pillar, The Buddhist Vihara, The Gupta Temple, The Museum.