Sanchi Town is a Nagar panchayat in Raisen District of the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, it is located 46 km north east of Bhopal, and 10 km from Besnagar and Vidisha in the central part of the state of Madhya Pradesh. Known for its "Sanchi Stupas", it is the location of several Buddhist monuments dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 12th CE and is one of the important places of Buddhist pilgrimage.
Etymology of Sanchi
In Mahavamsa the site is referred to as Chetiyagiri, which was visited by Mahinda and his mother Devi. Early votive inscription refer to the pace as Kakanaya. In the Gupta period it was termed Kakanada-Bota, and Bots-Shri-Parvat in the 7th century. An adjacent village is still called kanakheda. Sanchi might have originated from Sanskrit and Pali word Sanch meaning To Measure. In Hindi, however Sanchi or Sancha means for Moulds of Stones.
As of 2001 India census, Sanchi had a population of 6,785. Males constitute 53% of the population and females 47%. Sanchi has an average literacy rate of 67%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 75%, and to female literacy is 57%. In Sanchi, 16% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Monuments at Sanchi
There are numerous monuments at Sanchi. The main are these, using the numbers assigned by Sir Alexander Cunningham, founder of the Archaeological Survey of India, who led excavations at Sanchi in 1854, which are still often used in the literature:
- The main terrace: Stupa 1 (Great Stupa), Stupa 3, Pillar 10 (Ashoka Pillar), Temple 18 (Mauryan apsidal), Temple 17 (Gupta).
- Eastern Area: Temple 45 (10th century CE).
- Southern Area: Temple 40
- The western slope: Monastery 51 and Stupa 2.
- Chetiyagiri Vihara: Modern temple built in the 1960s (for the 2500th celebration of Buddha's Parinirvana) housing the remains of Sariputta and Mogglayan.
- The Archaeological Museum
On September 11, 2012, the Government of Madhya Pradesh announced the University Of Buddhist and Indic Studies, which is being built in collaboration with the government of Sri Lanka
and will be located at Sanchi, in close proximity to the stupa. Designed by Sri Lankan architect SW Isurunath Bulankulame, the University will have various facilities, combined with a green landscape and usage of natural energy.