The great stupa is Sanchi's most important and best-conserved monument, but there are plenty of subsidiary sites there. In its prime great stupa would have drawn devotees (and patronage) and so other people would have donated money for monuments there (or built them in the hope of receiving income). This smaller stupa in the foreground is stupa number three, which also has a carved gateway at the south end, and behind it is the top of yet another stupa).
|Here's another smaller stupa, this one built to
the southwest of the Great Stupa, which is visible in the background.
This shows what the Great Stupa may have looked like before restoration--a
simple rough core of bricks with an umbrella-shaped thing on top.
|In later times Buddhists built shrines that
looked a lot like the temples built by Hindus and Jains. These are pillars
from a Gupta Period (350-550 C.E.) temple. Later temples
even took on standard Hindu iconography, another temple on the property has an
image of Goddess Ganga (the Ganges) on the left side of the doorway, and Goddess Yamuna (the Yamuna River) on the right.
|As Sanchi became an important
religious site, people needed places to live. This picture shows a vihara, a dwelling-place for Buddhist monks (you can see the little
cells lining the outside wall, which would have been spaces for individual
monks; the space in the middle would have been a common space). The
earliest Buddhists were adamant that the Buddha was an enlightened human being;
he was to be followed, not worshipped. Sanchi would have been a place
to remind people of who the Buddha was and what he did. For monks, it
would have been a place to work on their spiritual development, and for lay
people to create religious merit through pious donations (inscriptions record
many of these).
Photo taken in January 1989
This is a shell inscription, and was inscribed on one of the pillars lying around at Sanchi. It is definitely writing (and not just decorative) but has never been decoded--the inscriptions are usually so short that there is very little copy to analyze.
With the passage of time, the Buddha began to be portrayed in iconic (figural) form, rather than by the symbols that had been used earlier. The best guess is that this transition happened in the first or second century CE. This image from Sanchi, set on the southwest side of the Great Stupa) shows the Buddha sitting in meditation, with the wheel-like halo behind his head, and protective deities around him.
Photo taken January 1989.
|Introduction||East Gate: Exterior / Interior||West Gate: Exterior / Interior||Final Shots|
|South Gate: Exterior / Interior||North Gate: Exterior / Interior|
These pages are in progress.
Page maintained by James G. Lochtefeld.
Last modified 27 December 2005