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Sanchi  

Michael D. Willis

[Sāñcī; anc. Kākaṇāya; Kākaṇāva; Kākanādaboṭa; Botaśrīparvata]

Buddhist site in Madhya Pradesh, India, 70 km from Bhopal, best known for three well-preserved stupas, part of a group of 51 monuments dating from the 3rd century bc to the 13th century ad. A full excavation and conservation effort was undertaken at Sanchi by John Marshall in 1912–19, bringing the monuments to their present condition. Marshall numbered the monuments 1 to 50, retaining most of the numbering allocated by Alexander Cunningham in a survey carried out in the mid-19th century. An additional monastery (51) was excavated in 1936. Since that time a Buddhist temple in an ‘Indo-revival’ style has been built on the hill, and the site’s Archaeological Museum constructed near the railway station.

Sanchi does not seem to have been the focus of any event in the life of the Buddha or his immediate followers. It prospered largely because it met the requirements for an ideal Buddhist retreat: situated on a hill 90 m high, it was a place of beauty and tranquillity not far from the commercial and political centre of Vidisha. The earliest possible reference to Sanchi is in the ...