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SRGPC Publication June 2017


S.R. Government polytechnic College, Sagar (MP)

Department of Architecture & Interior Design

Great Stupa, Sanchi


I. Introduction II. Location III. Discovery IV. Features V. Images

places. The major features of

this style are:-

Introduction: Stupas

Sanchi ( ) is a Buddhist Stambhas

complex, famous for its Great

Stupa; The Buddhist
architecture has its root deeply

implanted in the Indian soil- These have been mere

the birthplace of the Buddha's spectators of different eras

teachings. quietly speaks about the

phases of the Buddhist stages.

The Buddhist architecture

began with the development of Stupa:

various symbols, representing
A stupa is a mound-like
aspects of the Buddha's life
structure containing Buddhist
(563 BCE - 483 BCE).
relics, typically the remains of
Indian emperor Ashoka, not Buddha, used by Buddhists as
only established Buddhism as a place of worship.
the state religion of his large
These stupas are the circular
Magadh Empire, but also opted
tumuli built of earth, covered
for the architectural monuments
with stone or brick, the plan,
to spread Buddhism in different
elevation, section and the total

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form of which were all derived A symbol to inspire aspiration

from circle. and efforts in the religious life

the pursuit of enlightenment.


Great Stupa, on a hilltop

at Sanchi Town in Raisen
District of the state of Madhya
Pradesh, India. It is 46
kilometers (29 mi) north-east
Stupa becomes a cosmic
of Bhopal, capital of Madhya
symbol in response to a major
Pradesh. The Great Stupa at
human condition: death. With
Sanchi is one of the oldest
the enlightenment of the
stone structures in India and
Buddha, stupa became a was originally commissioned by
particularly Buddhist symbol. the emperor Ashoka in the 3rd
century BCE.
They incorporate the ancient,

pre-Buddhist burial mounds and The sanchi stupa built during

Mauryan period was made of
elements of the Brahmanic
religion several of whose

followers converted to The complex flourished until

the 11th century.

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Buddhist influence over the
central Indian landscape had
declined by the 12th century
and the stupas and other
The Stupa consists of a base
monuments slipped into
bearing a hemispherical dome
obscurity. As Buddhism
(anda), symbolizing the dome
recessed, these architectural
of heaven enclosing the earth.
marvels were no more
It is surmounted by a squared
considered useful, and
rail unit (harmika) representing
eventually, were completely
the world mountain, from which
rises a mast (yashti),
symbolizing the cosmic axis.
The mast bears umbrellas
(chatras) that represent the
various heavens (devaloka).

Emperor Ashoka built the great

stupa and made the town of
Sanchi sacred as well as
popular in 3rd century BC. But
a British cavalry officer
rediscovered and revived the
sacredness of the town in
It was in the year 1818 that
British officer General Taylor
discovered the site of Sanchi.

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He set about restoring its glory. was intended to honour and
Between 1912 and 1919, these shelter the relics.
beautiful ancient structures
It has four profusely carved
were restored to their present
ornamental gateways and a
condition under the able
balustrade encircling the whole
supervision of Sir John
Marshall, Director-General of
the Archaeological Survey of

Today around 50 monuments

remain on the hill of Sanchi,
narrating the rise and fall of
Buddhist art and architecture.


Its nucleus was a simple

DOME- is a solid brick-work
hemispherical brick structure
32.32m in diameter and 12.8m
built over the relics of the
The dome has a slight
It was crowned by the chatra,
crushed profile at top and was
a parasol-like structure
surmounted by HARMIKA with
symbolizing high rank, which
a central triple UMBRELLA.

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The facing of the dome
consists of dry masonry
composed of hammer dressed
stones laid in even courses.

The terrace 4.87m high from

ground was added thus
creating a separate and upper
AMBULATORY passage 1.8m
wide access to which was
provided by a double staircase
with high BALUSTRADE, on There are four gateways known
the south side. as TORANAS at the cardinal

points to the compass and are

slightly staggered from the

railing enclosing stupa.

The ambulatory or pradakshina

path is fenced by railing 3.35m

high all around the stupa.

Outside the railing there once

stood the famous ashoka pillar,

the fragments of which are

noticed now to the right of

southern torana.

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TORANA- between each of which is a

row of ornamental balusters.

Toranas, the entrance to the

ambulatory were accepted as

the traditional type of

ceremonial potals and excel

the array of architectural


These panels are supported by

Atlantean figures, a group of

dwarfs, lions and elephant.

The total height of this erection

is somewhat 10.36m with a

width of 3m.

Torana consists of two square

uprite columns with capital of

lion or elephant heads denoting


These columns support three

separate horizontal panels

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The top horizontal bar is

provided with coping to drain

out rain water.


The vedica or railing consists

of upright octagonal plan 45cm

in diameter spaced at 60 to

90cm from each other and

connected by three lens

shaped horizontals called

suchi or needles 60cm deep

being threaded through the

holes of the upright.

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Mukesh Kumar Shankhwar
Department of Architecture &
Interior Design
S.R. Government Polytechnic
College, Sagar


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