On a hill overlooking the plain and about 40 km from Bhopal, the site of Sanchi comprises a group of Buddhist monuments (monolithic pillars, palaces, temples and monasteries) all in different states of conservation most of which date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries B.C. It is the oldest Buddhist sanctuary in existence and was a major Buddhist centre in India until the 12th century A.D.
Sanchi, is a Buddhist complex, famous for its Great Stupa, on a hilltop at Sanchi Town in Raisen District of the Stateof Madhya Pradesh, India. It is located in 46 kilometres (29 mi) north-east of Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh. The Great Stupa at Sanchi is one of the oldest stone structures in India and was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka in the 3rd century BCE. Its nucleus was a simple hemispherical brick structure built over the relics of the Buddha. It was crowned by the chatra, a parasol-like structure symbolising high rank, which was intended to honour and shelter the relics.
The original construction work of this stupa was overseen by Ashoka, whose wife Devi was the daughter of a merchant of nearby Vidisha. Sanchi was also her birthplace as well as the venue of her and Ashoka's wedding. In the 1st century BCE, four elaborately carved toranas (ornamental gateways) and a balustrade encircling the entire structure were added. The Sanchi Stupa built during Mauryan period was made of bricks. The complex flourished until the 11th century.
Sanchi is the center of a region with a number of stupas including Satdhara (17 km from Sanchi, 40 stupas, the Relics of Sariputra and Mahamoggallana, now enshrined in the new Vihara, were unearthed there), Morel Khurd (on a fortified hilltop with 60 stupas), Andher (17 km NE of Vidisha), Mawas, Sonari etc. all within a few miles of Sanchi.