Monday, 23 December 2013

Madhya Pradesh – A Repository of Buddhist Heritage

The centermost state of India, Madhya Pradesh is an important stopover for a Buddhist follower. It has been placed on the Buddhist world map as the important link in the growth and development of the faith during the time of Emperor Ashoka. The state is renowned worldwide for a world famous Buddhist Pilgrimage spot; Sanchi was created by the glorious Mauryan ruler, Ashoka during 3rd – 12th century BC. His wife, Queen Devi was a daughter of a merchant from Vidisha, an ancient kingdom in Madhya Pradesh. Her strong connect with Vidisha made the king lay the foundation of religious center, Sanchi. Also, the king overwhelmed with the devastating effects of Kalinga war built the complex as a penance.
Over the nine centuries, the group of monuments at Sanchi hill acquired the status as the masterpieces of Buddhist art. The complex hosts many stupas, intricately carved gateways or Toranas, monasteries, temples and pillars. Listed as world heritage site by UNESCO, the Buddhist site at Sanchi is one of the prime Buddhist pilgrimage sites in Madhya Pradesh.  The balustrade surrounding Stupa 2, carved with an iconic representation of the Buddha, was added in the late 2nd century BC under the Satavahanas. This Buddhist attraction at Sanchi can be visited from Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh.

Other important Buddhist shrines here include Deor Kothar in Rewa District and Dharmrajeshwar. Deor Kothar is known for Buddhist Stupas excavated in 1982. These stupas are credited to Mauryan emperor Ashoka the great for preaching the religion. Dharmrajeshwar complex on Chandangiri Hill includes a series of 14 rock cut Buddhist caves with monasteries and Stupas of the 7th century. The complex here features ruins of a well planned monastery with more than 70 living quarters, pavilions, meditation halls, stupas and images of Lord Buddha and his disciples. Truly, Madhya Pradesh is distinctive in terms of Buddhist heritage of the country and undoubtedly makes an enriching Buddhist tour.

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