General view of the stupas of Sanchi
Artist: Maisey, Frederick Charles (1825-1892)
Watercolour drawing of the view of the stupas of Sanchi by Frederick Charles Maisey, from an album of 60 drawings dated 1847-1854. The drawing is inscribed: 'Plate XXXIX'; on the back: 'Plate XXXIX. Old Plate LII'.
The Buddhist site of Sanchi is of outstanding importance for the number and variety of its monuments and sculptures. The site has preserved Buddhist structures, mostly stupas, built between the third century BC and the sixth to seventh century AD. Stupas are Buddhist monuments consisting of a domed-shaped mound often containing sacred relics. Situated in a peaceful and meditative site crowning a hilltop, Sanchi was ideally located in proximity to the prosperous city of Vidisha. The foundations of this monastic centre were laid by the emperor Ashoka (reigned 269-232 BC ca.) who built the original stupa (Stupa 1) and erected a monolithic pillar in the third century BC. The stupa was later enlarged and encased in stone around the 1st century BC under the Shungas and four magnificently carved gateways called toranas were added at the cardinal points. The other structures located on the hilltop consist of basements of smaller stupas, apsidal-ended shrines, structural temples and monasteries. With the decline of Buddhism the site decayed until it was rediscovered in the 19th century and the restoration activities started at the beginning of the 20th century.