There are many holy places of pilgrimage pertaining to Buddha religion in India. As Buddha religion followers were more in East and Central parts of India, such places are mostly situated in these parts. We had an opportunity to visit one such holy place of Sanchi Stoopa, which is situated near the city of Bhopal in the State of Madhya Pradesh. These ancient stoopas are really worth visiting due to their unique architectural design as old as around 2500 years from now.
The Famous Sanchi Stoopa is situated at the distance of around 42 miles from the city of Bhopal, which is the capital city of State of Madhya Pradesh. Bhopal is well connected by air, train, and the buses from most of the major cities of India. We had reached Bhopal by train from Vadodara that leaves at around 9 pm in the night and reaches Bhopal at around 7 am in the next morning. This train journey in air-conditioned class is really comfortable and also not too expensive. The visitors can hire car or taxi to reach Sanchi from the city of Bhopal. There are regular buses also plying from the city of Bhopal at every half an hour interval. King Ashoka built these stoopas before around 2500 years from now. British General Taylor had invented these beautiful pieces of art in the year 1818. Later on, Sir John Marshal renovated these stoopas in the years 1912 to 1919. The stoopa of Sanchi is the largest stoopa of the world. This stoopa is situated on a small hill, around 300 feet high. King Ashoka has built 84000 stoopas in all in the entire country of India. This stoop of Sanchi is the biggest of all. Originally, King Ashoka built eight stoopas here at Sanchi. However, only three stoopas have remained here now. The first stoopa, known as Mahastoopa, is around 50 feet high and is situated on 130 feet base. There is an artistic stonewall all around this stoopa and is having four gates. Each of these gates is decorated with the most artistic stone Torans having beautiful engravings on them. Various ancient stories of Hindu religion are engraved on these Torans. The visitors are really amazed to see these artistic engravings of the ancient age. The North side entry gate is the best of all. There are statues of elephants in all the four directions of this gate. Lord Buddha is shown performing various religious rituals on this stoopa. Lord Buddha is also shown donating all types of items to poor and needy people of the city. The East side gate is having the sculptures of Lord Buddha leaving the palace after seeing all the miseries of the human life. Lord Buddha is shown walking on water in one of the sculptures. The south side gate is having the beautiful sculpture showing the event of the birth of Lord Buddha. Queen Mayadevi, mother of Lord Buddha, is shown with Buddha in their palace. The West side gate is showing Lord Buddha delivering religious speech at the famous place of Sarnath in Bihar. Thousands of people are shown listening to this speech with lot of peace, joy, and happiness. There are few other stoopas all around these famous stoopas of Sanchi. The other two stoopas at Sanchi are smaller as compared to the main stoopa.
You need to spend around one full day at Sanchi to really enjoy these beautiful stoopas. There is a Buddha guesthouse here at Sanchi for the night halt of visitors. This guesthouse offers nice and clean double rooms at the rates of around Rs.1000 ($20) per day. Most of the visitors do not prefer to stay for the night halt at Sanchi and reach to their destination by the same day evening. We also did the same thing and started our return journey at around 5 pm in the evening and reached the city of Bhopal by around 7 pm in the evening. The food is no problem at Sanchi and Indian vegetarian food items are served at restaurants, situated near the Stoops of Sanchi.
If you are interested in the history of India and the Buddha religion, Sanchi is a place that you must visit during your next visit to India.
All above details on this monument have been compiled based on the signboards placed by tourism department of India and the discussions we had with the local guide.