Monday, September 1, 2014

Sanchi, Vidisha & Udaigiri Caves.

Day 41 Bhopal To Sanchi, Vidisha & Udaigiri

Distance: 50 km
Road Condition: Very good

The Great Stupa
Sanchi Stupas, the first stone monuments in India leave you spellbound! Built in the 3rd century BC, atop a hillock, these magnificent stone structures are nothing less than a feat of engineering ingenuity. These breathtaking Stupas built by Emperor Ashoka mark the birth of Buddhism. These World heritage monuments stand as a fine example of Classical Indian Architecture.

The Stupa 1, towering over 16 mt in height & 36 mt in diameter, embellishing triple umbrella on the Dome is the center of attraction. One can find intricate carvings depicting the 'Life Of Buddha.'

Stupa 1
Stupa 2
Stupa 3
Every ruin has a sad story to tell and this place is no exception. Walking across the Stupas, one comes across a ruined pillar.  As the story goes, this pillar which was erected by Ashoka was destroyed by a local Zamindar. Only the lower portion of the pillar stands while the remains are now preserved under a shed. This pillar carries a strong message from Ashoka warning the Monks & Nuns of expulsion, if found to create schism within Buddhist Community.

The Britishers did not leave empty handed, the contents of the Stupas were shipped to England.

Vidisha & Udaigiri Caves

India is a treasure trove & never fails to amuse even the most seasoned Traveler, Vidisha is a fine example. This quiet town teleports one to the 3rd century - the structure, ruins, caves & pillars leaves one speechless. It gives any Indian immense bragging rights. Once a thriving town, this most sought after trade destination was abandoned during 6th century and till date continues to remain in an antique state. The ruins of Brahmanical Shrine here, reveals that the foundation bricks are cemented together with Lime Mortar, the first known example of use of cement in India.

Close to the ruins still stands 'Khambha Baba/ Heliodorus Pillar,' a free standing 20 feet pillar. Helio Dorus an ambassador from Taxila constructed this pillar to pay homage to Vasudev, Lord Vishnu. This pillar is strikingly similar to that of Ashoka pillar.

In 4th century AD came into being Udaigiri Caves, a series of rock cut carving with emphasis on the preaching of Hinduism & Jainism. These caves established by Vikramaditya stand as testimony of the craftsmanship during that period. Udaigiri caves represents great Indian craftsmanship, imagine such carvings done at an era when stone was the only tool available. I think it would be safe to assume that human race was much more smarter, better skilled & naturally gifted before modernization & fancy gadgets kicked in. The most significant features are the carving of 'Varaha,' the 3rd incarnation of Lord Vishnu & the statue of Vishnu resting, both carved out of single piece of rock.

Irony is Gods, the creator & protector of the human race, are now locked behind steel enclosures in order to keep them safe from humans because it is important for Pinku to express his eternal love for Tinku on centuries old monuments!

Checked into Hotel Samodhi at Sanchi- the property is value for money. Pretty spacious & clean rooms, the service & food is very good. Stay options are very basic & minimal, it is advisable to stay in Bhopal.

Our next stop- Bhimbetka.