The great Budhist [sic] Tope at Sanchi (before restoration)
Photographer: Dayal, Deen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of Sanchi stupa in Madhya Pradesh, taken by Deen Dayal in 1882. This is a view from the north, with the northern gateway in the foreground.
The great stupa of Sanchi is the finest example of monumental architecture of the Shunga era (c.185-75 BC). It was first discovered in ruined conditions in 1819 and reconstructed at the beginning of the 20th century. It consists of a large hemispherical dome which was built over an already existing stupa ascribed to the 3rd century BC during the reign of the Buddhist emperor Ashoka Maurya (reigned c.269-232 BC). The stupa was later enlarged around the 1st century BC under the Shungas. A processional path at the ground level is surrounded by a balustrade with posts and railings with four elaborately carved gateways or toranas at the cardinal points. These toranas are completely covered with sculptures depicting various episodes of the life of Buddha Shakyamuni represented aniconically.