Sanchi is a serene hill crowned by a group of stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from 3rd century BC to 12th century AD. The glory that was Sanchi, an ancient place of pilgrimage, can still be experienced in its complex structures where many Buddhist legends found expression in the rich sculpture. The Buddha is not represented through figures at Sanchi, but through symbols, as was the tradition in the early period of Buddhism. The lotus represents the Buddha's birth, the tree signifies his enlightenment, the wheel represents his nirvana or salvation.
Some of the important monuments in Sanchi are: - The Great Stupa No.1- 36.5mts in diameter and 16.4 mts high it is one of the oldest stone structures in India. With a massive hemispherical dome, the stupa stands majestically. The paved procession path around it has become smooth by centuries of pilgrim's visit. Built originally as an earthen stupa by the Emperor Ashoka, it was rebuilt in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. The last of the additions to this remarkable stupa are the elaborate and richly carved four gateways or Toranas. The first of the four gateways to be erected was the one at the Southern Entrance, followed, in chronological order by the Northern, the Eastern and the Western Gateways. Stupa No. 2, dating back to the 2nd Century BC, stands at the very edge of the hill and its most striking feature is the stone balustrade that surrounds it. Stupa No.3 situated northeast of the Great Stupa is where the relics of Sariputra and Mahamogalana, the two famous disciples of the Buddha were found in its inner most chambers. The hemispherical dome is crowned, as a mark of its special religious significance, with an umbrella of polished stone. It has only one gateway.