Saturday, 3 April 2010


Thursday 1 April: From Bhopal I take a rickety old bus to the fabulous Buddhist monuments at Sanchi. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site the stupas, temples and monasteries were built by Mauryan emperor Ashoka in 262 BC, abandoned as Hinduism prevailed, only to be rediscovered by a British army officer in 1818,
Today the hill-top compound is a quiet, hassle-free and peaceful place with just myself and a few colourful locals admiring the structures.
Enclosed by a stone fence the main stupa has four beautifully carved gateways. The older western one is supported by three lions carved back-to-back.
Stupas two and three, also within stone enclosures but missing the gateways, are also sublime.
At the foot of the hill the little museum is a welcome break from the heat and there are two highlights among the many stone carvings, an early sandstone Buddha and the finely sculptured triple-lion capital from one of Ashoka's original pillars. Triple lions are the state emblem of India and are printed in the bottom left-hand corner of all banknotes.
Photos of Sanchi.

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