Rear view of western gate of Sanchi Tope
Photographer: Dayal, Deen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the rear view of the western gateway of Sanchi stupa in Madhya Pradesh, taken by Deen Dayal in 1882, from the Lee-Warner Collection: 'Scenes and Sculptures of Central India, Photographed by Lala Deen Diyal, Indore.' The great stupa of Sanchi is the finest example of monumental architecture of 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 from the reign of the Buddhist emperor Ashoka Maurya (reigned c.269-232 BC). The stupa was later enlarged around the1st century BC under the Shungas and four elaborately carved gateways or toranas were added at the cardinal points. The western gateway consists of two square posts crowned with a group of four pot bellied dwarfs called yakshas. These support a triple architrave with scrolled ends. The posts and the gateways are completely covered with sculptures depicting various episodes of the life of Buddha Shakyamuni represented aniconically. The scenes carved on the architraves depict from top to bottom the transport of the Buddha's relics to Kushinagara, the war over the relics and the temptation of the Buddha by Mara.