Western gate of the Sanchi Tope (lately restored)
Photographer: Dayal, Deen
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of the western gateway of the 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 under 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 gateway is completely covered with sculptures depicting various episodes of the life of Buddha Shakyamuni represented aniconically. The sculptures on the architraves represent from top to bottom trees and stupas of the Manushi Buddhas, the Sermon at Sarnath and Bodhi trees and elephants and devotees worshipping the stupa.