The oldest stone edifice in India is about an hour's drive from the busy metropolis of Bhopal. The Sanchi Stupa, one of the most important Buddhist structures in the world, has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its magnificent carvings of the famous Jataka stories on stone pillars. These stories tell of the previous lives of the Buddha and include some of the most intricate and detailed sculpture ever created.
Other than Sanchi, which was built around 100 BC, all other ancient sites are in northern India. They include several large monastic complexes that date back to the 1st century AD, such as those at Nalanda and Odantapuri.
These places were major centers of learning for many years until they were destroyed by the Islamic rulers of India. Today, only small remains of these ancient buildings stand among the trees near the banks of the Mahanadi River. In addition, there are several smaller sites across northern India that date back more than 2,000 years such as Kalibangan, where scientists have found evidence of as many as 11 buildings dating back to between 200 BC and AD 500.
India has a long history of architectural creativity and diversity. Ancient Indian cities were composed of multiple islands surrounded by water bodies or lakes. This provided protection against invaders but also made it difficult to expand the city limits.
The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India and an important monument of Indian architecture.
|Location||Sanchi Town, Madhya Pradesh, India, Asia|
|Construction started||3rd century BCE|
|Height||16.46 m (54.0 ft) (dome of the Great Stupa)|
Sachi Stupa is a Buddhist temple. This was built about the second century BC. Emperor Ashoka built this monument, which is claimed to be the earliest Buddhist sanctuary. This location was India's principal Buddhist hub until the 12th century. After that time, many temples were destroyed by the Muslims and only Sachi Stupa remains today.
Buddha is said to have delivered his first sermon at Sachi Stupa. Therefore, it can be considered as the birthplace of Buddhism in India.
This stupa is also known as the Dhamek Stupa because it contains three relics of the Buddha: a hand bone, a foot bone, and a tooth. All these relics are made of gold. The original height of the stupa was 40 feet but now only its base remains due to damage caused by weather over time.
Buddhist monks used to stay here while they visited all the major cities in India. They would usually visit two or three times a year so that they could spread the message of peace and happiness. Today, visitors can go inside the stupa but not the relic chambers since these are reserved for religious leaders only.
The name Sachi means 'full of wisdom' in Sanskrit. It is said that when the Buddha died, he took his death on a full moon night.