• Sanchi, a world heritage site located in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh, is all set to become India’s first solar city.
  • It lies in an upland plateau region just west of the Betwa River.
  • Sanchi is a religious place with historical and archaeological significance.
  • It has India’s best-preserved group of Buddhist monuments, collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1989.

Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi

  • Comprise a group of Buddhist monuments like monolithic pillars, palaces, temples and monasteries etc which date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C.
  • The most prominent stupa found here is the Sanchi Stupa, also known as the Great Stupa.
  • Other remains at the site include several smaller stupas, an assembly hall (chaitya), an Ashokan pillar with inscriptions, and several monasteries (4th–11th century CE).
  • It is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence and was a major Buddhist centre in India until the 12th century A.D.

The Sanchi Stupa

  • It was built by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka in the third century BC.
  • It enshrines religious relics or remains of the Buddha and his most revered disciples.
  • It is enclosed by a massive stone railing pierced by four gateways, which are adorned with elaborate carvings (known as Sanchi sculpture).
  • The stupa itself consists of a base bearing a hemispherical dome (anda), symbolizing the dome of heaven enclosing the earth.
  • It is surmounted by a squared rail unit (harmika) representing the world mountain, from which rises a mast (yashti), symbolizing the cosmic axis.
  • The mast bears umbrellas (chatras) that represent the various heavens (devaloka).
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