Photograph of the lower portion of the eastern gateway of Sanchi stupa in Madhya Pradesh, taken by Deen Dayal in 1882. 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 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 and four elaborately carved gateways or toranas were added at the cardinal points. 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 and carved figures of winged lions, peacocks and elephants. The gateway is completely covered with sculptures depicting various episodes of the life of Buddha Shakyamuni represented aniconically. On the sides of the posts are also carved foliate designs, creepers motifs and lotuses.