Sanchi in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India is world renowned for stupas, temples, monolith Asokan pillar, sculptural wealth, and monasteries. It also houses the “Great Stupa of Sanchi” which is the oldest stone structure of the country.
In the 3rd century BC, Emperor Asoka the Great laid its foundation as a religious centre. Originally, the stupa was a low brick structure. It was covered on the top with a stone umbrella and surrounded at the base with a wooden railing.
During the Sunga period, the Asokan stupa was expanded, set with stones, and beautified with staircases, balustrades and a harmika on the crown.
The Andhra-Satavahanas, during the first century BC, created the extensively carved stone gateways to the Stupa. These exquisite carvings elaborately portray the important miracles and episodes from the life and events of Lord Buddha.
From the fourteenth century, Sanchi remained uncared for and deserted. In 1818, General Taylor rediscovered it; and in 1919, an archaeological museum was established here by Sir John Marshall. Later on, it was transformed into today’s museum site. Currently, a UNESCO project is excavating, conserving and environmentally developing a site 10km south-east of Sanchi.