The Great Stupa, Sanchi
One of the few surviving examples of the Mauryan era buildings, The Great Stupa is located in Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh. Being built over the relics of Lord Buddha, it was also a major pilgrimage site for the Buddhists. It was built during the 3rd century BC by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka and was later expanded by the Shunga and the Satavahana empires that followed.
One of the oldest stone structures in India, the Great Stupa at Sanchi is an important Buddhist monument. Built by Emperor Ashoka to honor Lord Buddha, the stupa stands proud as an icon of Sanchi, though there are other architectural marvels in the vicinity. UNESCO has listed it among the world heritage sites.
A hemispherical brick structure, the Stupa is surrounded by four gateways called Toranas, each representing love, trust, courage and peace. These gateways are beautifully crafted and sculptured, some having its own dramatic narrations and tales associated with them. The Great Stupa is built over the relics of the Buddha and thus to honour these relics, the Stupa was crowned with chatra. It is around 37 meters in diameter and over 16 meters high.
There are other monuments in Sanchi that can be visited besides the Great Stupa. These include Ashoka Pillar, Chetiyagiri Vihara, Archaeological Museum, Buddhist monasteries, temples and viharas, Gupta Temple and others.
Lush gardens surround the stupa. One can plan for a family picnic and spending quality time there. The surroundings are clean and well maintained. Audio guides are also available to provide a detailed insight about the place.