Front view of the restored pillars of the East Gateway from the right, Sanchi Tope
Photographer: Dayal, Deen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the restored pillars of the East Gateway of Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh, taken by Deen Dayal around 1883, from the Archaeological Survey of India. Sanchi is one of the most important Buddhist sites in India for the variety of monuments and the relief sculptures on the railings and toranas, or gateways. The structures date from the 3rd century BC until the 7th century AD. The Great Stupa of Sanchi was built in the Shunga era (c.185-75 BC). It consists of a large hemispherical dome which was built over an already existing stupa ascribed to the 3rd century BC at the time of the Buddhist emperor Ashoka Maurya. Four elaborately carved gateways were also added to the stupa during the 1st century BC. The Eastern gateway consists of two square posts crowned with a group of four elephants and two shalabhanjika, females figures grasping the branch of a tree. These support a triple architrave with scrolled ends. The gateway is completely covered with sculptures depicting various episodes of the life of Buddha Sakhyamuni.