Sanchi is located 46 km north east of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. Sanchi is famous for its stupas, monolithic Asokan pillar, temples, monasteries and sculptural wealth dating from the 3rd century BCE to the 12th CE and is one of the important places of Buddhist pilgrimage. It was Emperor Asoka who laid
the foundations of a religious centre at Sanchi. He erected the Great Stupa (Stupa 1) here after redistribution of mortal remains of Lord Buddha for erecting several stupas all over the country in order to spread Buddhism. The 'Great Stupa' at Sanchi is the oldest stone structure in India which was originally commissioned by 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 construction work of this stupa was overseen by Ashoka's wife, Devi herself, who was the daughter of a merchant of Vidisha. Sanchi was also her birthplace as well as the venue of her and Ashoka's wedding. In the 1st century BCE, four profusely carved ornamental gateways and a balustrade encircling the whole structure was added.
From the second to fourth century AD Sanchi and Vidisha came under the Kushanas and Kshatrapas and subsequently passed on to the hands of the Guptas. During the Gupta period some temples were also built and sculptures were added displaying the classical grace and simplicity of the era. Further, statues of Lord Buddha seated in the canopies facing the four entrances of the Great Stupa were also added. Sanchi also flourished during the 7th - 12th centuries AD when shrines and monasteries were continued to be added. Thus Sanchi displays harmonious co-existence of Hindu and Buddhist faiths.
Sanchi is a World Heritage site and is well maintained and open to public viewing from sunrise to sunset.