First Day at the Sanchi Site

Day 9: Today we entered the Sanchi site for the first time, and climbed the 300ft hill to the main group of buildings, including the Stupa no 1, which is the center-piece of the site. We set off early and arrived just before dawn. As it happened we spent more than two hours there photographing the main stupa and no one else appeared until we were walking down the hill to go for breakfast.

Fearing that the site would be overrun with tourists at any time, we set up the camera for the 360 degree photogrpahs first, only to be stopped by guards who were not happy that we were using a stand, which is apparently against the rules. We showed them how the stand converts to a selfie stick, and they were OK with that, so we agreed to not use the stand.

The site appeared to be well-guarded and kept very clean and tidy, and as it is fairly remote from the nearby village it was quiet and had a good atmosphere. It struck me as one of the better cared for centres, presumably because it is a World Heritage Site as well as an Indian Protected Monument.

I managed to photograph all the scenes depicted on the torana (gates) and they seem to have come out well, the only issue being that I didn’t discover the 2nd floor of the stupa until I had finished for the day, but clearly it is better to photograph the reliefs at the back of the gates from this height, and I will have to do it again tomorrow.

The site also contains a destroyed Asokan pillar, many inscriptions (which I also photographed today), and many other buildings, which I will have to have a closer look at tomorrow. Inside the grounds is also a Mahābodhi Temple, which is where devotees can offer pūjā and listen to sermons, and there is even a picnic area.

* * *

In the afternoon we went to the Sanchi Museum, which is included in the entrance ticket, the first place we visited was Sir John Marhsall’s residence, which was quite a disappointment, as it looked very nice from outside, but only two rooms with only photos, books and cutlery on the inside.

On the other hand the Museum proper is very good, well laid out, clean and some good exhibits from the Sanchi site. I photographed more or less all of it, along with the identification tags, and also took some 360 degree photographs of the rooms.

Afterwards we decided to return to the main site, and make the photographs from the 2nd floor of the stupa. That went quite well, but there were many more people at the site, and I was sometimes waiting five minutes or more, for people to walk out of the picture.

Sanchi Stupa Eastern Gate at Dawn



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