Buddhist Monuments, Sanchi stupa, MP. hearty-india.com
From the 1st century BCE, itself the gateways and the stone balustrade have exited and were built and colored. The work began earnestly during the period of the Satavahana. The gateways and toranas are generally dated to the 1st century CE.
|Sanchi stupa. sacredsites.com|
Emperor Ashoka after redistributing the relics of Lord Buddha had plans to build stupas over his relics. The present Stupa at Sanchi is counted among the best conserved ancient Stupas of central India. A stupa is characteristic of the Chatra, a parasol like structure (umbrella shaped), a symbol of high rank intended to honor and shelter the relics.. There is a sandstone pillar, inscribed with Schism Edict by Ashoka as also with ornate spiral Brahmi characters from the Gupta period resembling conch shells referred to as ‘Shankhalipi’ or ‘shell-script’ by scholars. While the lower portion of it is still grounded, the upper portions are kept under a canopy of stone crowned the hemispherical brick.
|Sanchi monuments. Satavahana decorations. first century. wikipedia.org/n|
Above image: Satavahana (first century) decorations on a gateway at Sanchi. The Buddha is never directly represented, due to the early aniconism in Buddhism.The decorations on the gateway represent multiple rituals.................
|stone stairway, Sanchi Buddhist monuments. en.wikipedia.org|
|3rd stupa. Sanchi. en.wikipedia.org|
Above image: Shunga period stupa 3 (the decorated gateway to the right is Satavahana).
During the early rule of Shunga dynasty (Pushyamitra's period) in the 2nd century, it is believed, that the stupa was vandalized, but in the later Shunga period (Agnimitra's reign) the stupa saw some expansion with stone slabs almost twice its original size. The dome was flattened near the top and crowned by three superimposed parasols within a square railing. It was, apparently, a symbol of dharma, the Wheel of the Law with many tiers. The dome was built on a high circular drum (meant for circumambulation), which could be accessed through a double staircase. Yet another addition was a second stone pathway at ground level that was enclosed by a stone balustrade with four monumental gateways (Toranas) facing the cardinal directions. Thus evolved the second and third stupas during this period.
A British officer named General Taylor in 1818 documented the presence of the Stupa. Till 1881 treasure hunters and Amateur archaeologists caused extensive damage to the Stupa following which appropriate steps were undertaken to restore the ancient monument. Sir John Hubert Marshall, who served as the Director General of the ‘Archaeological Survey of India’ (ASI) from 1902 to 1928 supervised the restoration work of the Stupa between 1912 and 1919 and earlier this great monument was damaged by armature artifacts collectors and treasure hunters.