January 07, 2012

The Foundation Stones of the Indian State - Sanchi

In 1947 when the India became a modern political nation state, the icons that it chose to represent itself were were adopted from the symbols found in the Great Stupa of Sanchi -- built by Emperor Ashoka in the second half the 3rd Century B.C. History records Ashoka as the first political ruler of a nation state that nearly covered the entire geographic spread of the current, modern nation state that is referred to as the Republic of India.


The Lion Standard -- the Ashoka Stambha --  that represents the Indian State is taken from this column located on the South Gate, the oldest gate, dating back to Emperor Ashok himself.


The Dharma Chakra (shown above)  that graces the centre of the Indian national flag is found on the column of the West Gate (shown below)



Here are some more views of the Lion Standard that are shown below




that is Subhayan and Indira Mukerjee flanking Narendralal Banerjee at Sanchi on 24th December 2011.

While the South Gate of the Great Stupa at Sanchi is oldest and most well known since it carries the Lion Standard, the position of the sun was such that the Stupa looked best when viewed from the West. The following pictures were taken from that side and shows the West Gate.





My thoughts as I stood at the foundation stones of the Indian nation state



The West Gate has some of the most intricate stone carvings and here are some close up pictures of the same.







to put things in perspective, these intricate decorative pieces go back all the way to the time of Emperor Ashoka -- 2500 years ago !




Another view of the Stupa from the western side and if you turn  around, you look down from the Sanchi Hill towards the plains in the distance and in front you will find the remains of an ancient Buddhist monastery.


Shown below are some more pictures of the Northern and Eastern Gates





it was an incredible day for all of us, walking around the ramparts of the Stupa, in the footsteps of Emperor Ashoka, whose wife hailed from the neighbouring township of Vidisha that still exists today a few kilometres from this Stupa


Subhayan with one of the few intact statues of Lord Buddha located near the Eastern Gate


at the famous South Gate again




Subhayan at The  Eastern Gate (above) and Prithwis (below) at what seemed to be the top of the world


A last look at the Great Stupa from the South East Corner



This is the smaller second Stupa also located at Sanchi.

Sanchi is a recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and is worshipped as a great place of pilgrimage by Buddhists from all over the world.


Sanchi is located about 50 kms from Bhopal, the capital city of the state of Madhya Pradesh. 46 kms from Bhopal, but on the other side of the city is another UNESCO recognised World Heritage Site -- the famous Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka.

On the way back from Sanchi we crossed the Tropic of Cancer !






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