When you travel to Sanchi, you will love to visit popular tourist spots and enjoy the local culture. Amongst other Things to do in Sanchi, you can surely explore some of the best things to do in Sanchi to make your trip a fulfilling one. On a trip to Sanchi things to do can include exploring Sanchi attractions and visiting the places of interest.
The great Stupa of Sanchi was commissioned by Indian Emperor Ashoka after his disillusionment from the wars and bloodshed in Kalinga. When “Ashoka the Great” embraced Buddhism, he decided to build a stupa to memorialize the earthly relics of Buddha. Emperor Ashoka laid the foundations of the great Stupa in 3 centuries BC, the construction was watched upon by his wife Devi. The original stupa was built with bricks; however, Ashoka’s successors added on to the main stupa and had built a stone stupa over it to preserve and refurbish the original edifice. They also added an intricate vedika (railing) & four elaborately carved toranas (gateways) to the structure alongside building several other smaller stupas around the main stupa. This beautiful monument was forgotten after 12th century or so, with the regression of Buddhism in India. It was not until 1818 when a famed British historian, General Taylor mentioned Sanchi in one of his documents that the world came to rediscover this lost wonder. Afterwards, there was an era in which fortune hunters and inexperienced archeologists pillaged this monument, which stopped after 1912,
When Sir John Marshall took it upon himself to restore the stupa to its former splendor. Today, the Great Stupa of Sanchi, also called Stupa 1, stands 71 feet tall, on a hill in all its glory recounting stories about a time bygone and as a symbol of respect and faith in Buddhism. The stupa is a fine example of the architectural expertise of Maurya & Gupta empires. There are 4 other stupas around the main stupa, on the same hill, one of them is actually just the remains of the base, but the other 3 are in good shape and look just as beautiful.
Built around the same time as the great stupa, this Chunar sandstone pillar is in a fragmentary condition. The base is still erect at its original position; however, the upper part has been moved under a canopy. The Pillar has inscriptions from Ashoka Schism Edict and other inscriptions in Sankha script of Gupta Period. The Ashoka Pillars were crowned by animals, and this one was topped by four lions, which is quite similar to the one in Sarnath, which is topped by India’s national emblem. Your tour to Sanchi would definitely be incomplete if you miss seeing the Ashoka Pillar.
Towards the Stupa 2, behind a monastery is a massive monolithic bowl. Carved out of a single stone, this huge bowl was used in the old day to keep food and alms for the monks in the monastery. Despite, its time ravaged appearance, the stone bowl still looks magnificent.
There are several old temples in Sanchi. The most noteworthy of them is the Temple 18 called the Gupta Temple, which was built to serve as a prayer hall or chaitya. The temple dates back to 7th century AD. Built like the old Greek columned structures, this majestic architecture still has remnants of earlier wooden buildings underneath it. The oldest of these temples is Temple 40, which was built in the period of Ashoka.
Just like the temples, there are quite a few Buddhist monasteries around. Most of them, which were initially constructed with wood, have long perished and only their bits and pieces like courtyards and foundations remain. Monasteries 45 & 47 take a cue from the Hindu designs in architecture rather than the Buddhist. There are two statues of Buddha in Monastery 45, which are rather fine sculptures.
This small museum run by the Archeological Survey of India is located at the base of the hill. The museum is home to artifacts which have been discovered and excavated over the course at and around the Great Stupa. There are also a few relics from the other towns in the vicinity. You must visit the museum to see the four lions from the Ashoka Pillar in Sanchi and other metallic objects, which once belonged to the monks in monasteries. The Museum is open everyday between 10 AM to 5 PM. It is closed on Fridays.
Quite a few of the sacred artifacts and bone relics of important Buddhist monks were taken away to England as personal trophies by Maisey & Cunningham. Afterwards, they were sold and displayed at the Victoria & Albert Museum. On the request of a lot of Buddhists, the artifacts were later returned and some of them which are still in India have been displayed in Vihara, which means a ‘Resting Place’. The Museum is open only on the last Sunday of the month.
A visit to Sanchi would be excellent for children who are old enough to understand the importance of history in our evolution or have a keen interest in archeology. The lush greenery around is perfect for having picnics. Children would also enjoy a visit to the Sanchi Udyan and Indira Lake Complex.
The Sanchi Udyan is a very famous garden. It is ideal for picnics and to spend some quality time with nature. This lush green park should also feature in your itinerary. Another charming place in the nearby town Vidisha is the Indira Lake Complex. Vidisha is about 10 kilometers away from Sanchi and has this manmade lake. The lake is surrounded by manicured lawns and is a great place to unwind and enjoy with your family.
The Udaygiri caves between Sanchi and Vidisha attract a lot of people, who come to watch the fabulous artistic sculptures of some of Lord Visnu’s avatars, Lord Ganesh and Durga. The rich history of this place would leave you awestruck and amazed. The place gives a valuable perspective of the Indian heritage and culture. The views around the area are beautiful.
Sanchi being a historical place offers mostly sigh seeing as an activity. If you like, you can take hikes around the area and get to know the geography better. For relaxation, you can visit the park or The Indira Lake in Vidisha and have some quiet time. There is also a spa, a swimming pool and health club in the Hotel Grandeur De Sanchi which you may use if you a guest there. Aside from its historic magnificence, Sanchi has a lot of natural beauty. The place has serene & calm atmosphere which will be solace for your frayed nerves and a retreat from the busy city life.
There are a lot of small restaurants around the famous tourist destinations and they mostly serve North Indian cuisine and some delicacies from Madhya Pradesh. The most noteworthy restaurant is the Gateway Cafeteria which is run by the Madhya Pradesh Tourism. This neat & clean cafeteria has a limited menu; however it serves fresh and tasty food. You may want to sip coffee here after a tiring day looking at the monuments. Another good place to eat is Sekhari Canteen.
Do look forward to taste some delicious local food. You may want to try Dal Bafla, which is flattened and baked wheat cake dipped in rich clarified butter. It is served with spicy and delicious dal and laddoos. Another thing which you would find to eat in abundance is Poha. This dish made of beaten steamed rice and is very popular in making an excellent breakfast. Rest of the food is predominantly north Indian, with dishes like kebabs, keema, pulao etc.
There are no pubs and bars around Sanchi, though you may get alcoholic beverages in liquor stores or at your hotel. You may contact your travel company and find out about the options available for a camping trip nearby and spend a night around the campfire.
There are no major markets in Sanchi, but you can definitely buy some things from the flea markets around. The local flea and street markets in Sanchi would cater to your essential needs and more. You may shop for Terracotta statues of Buddha, shell and bamboo artifacts and brassware from these markets. There are some shops from which you can also buy crocheted souvenirs and hand carved furniture.