Looking through the bus window, atop a little hillock appear the magnificent domes of the Sanchi Stupa. They gaze at you in their resplendent glory waiting to tell their silent stories that many others have witnessed for thousands of years.
My trip to Sanchi was actually a part of a bigger trip to Bhopal, where we had gone to play the National Law India University sports fest. The inauguration was in the evening so we decided to take a trip to the famed Stupas of Sanchi. A Stupa is basically a building which houses the remains of either Buddha himself or one of his disciples. The ones in Sanchi were built by Ashoka. They 4 Stupa are surrounded by little temples, platforms, rooms for meditation etc. It said on one of the plaques, that Ashoka chose that particular location as it was away from the main city, at that time and would provide a perfect location for the monks to learn, meditate and do their daily activities. And how true it was!!
We left at about 10 in the morning and since we did not really not a lot about Bhopal and Madhya Pradesh Transport System, till about 11 we kept going around the three main bus stands in Bhopal. Had it been Delhi, we would have taken the red line to Kashmere Gate, checked hopped on a bus to wherever we wanted to go in this country, but of course, that is Delhi. In Bhopal, we asked the Bhopalis in our contingent. They sent us to the ISBT of Bhopal but from there, as we came to know, we had to go to a place called ‘Nadira Bus Stand’ which is the Vidisha Bus Stand. It is from there where you get the buses to Sanchi.
So we hope on a bus to Vidisha; no bus really just goes to Sanchi, they all go all the way to Vidisha, which is about 20 km from Sanchi. Another thing we realised is that transport in MP is damn expensive. The journey from the ISBT to Nadira Bus Stand was ₹30 and from Bhopal to Sanchi was ₹45, so I guess you can imagine. The buses will leave you about 1 km from Sanchi, it is a crossroad.
Now from the crossroad to the actual structure is a like a small trek. Just where it starts, is a small hotel run by MP Tourism. We had a nice little lunch there. Then headed to the Sanchi. There are two routes, one is a metallic road and the other seems to be some old stairs, that are weather beaten and speak of the travellers that must have traversed its length. We, in the spirit of the upcoming sports events, decided to take the stairs. There were about a 150 of them. But when they ended, the entire effort seemed worth it.
The weather that way was just for us, it was perfect. A perfect breeze, they clouds played hide and seek with the sun and where we went did not make a difference, Sanchi was amazing.
There are four Stupa there, the first and the third were found to be empty but the other two, if I remember correctly had remains of some disciples of Buddha. We went around one of the bigger ones. These are hemispheres with staircases on four sides to the first floor and a parapet there. We kept looking for an entrance to the hemisphere but surprisingly there wasn’t any. So the hemispheres are solid and are just a symbolic representation, of what that I don’t really know, because well we did not hire a guide.
The other stupas are each a short walk away. But the most amazing part, as I always say, the journey. When we were coming back, we decided to not take a bus, instead we took a ticket for the running compartment of a train that was coming to Bhopal somewhere from Chattisgarh, yeah! That was the first time I actually travelled in such a compartment and it was an experience in itself. The ticket was some ₹30 bucks and the train left us at Habibgunj, a junction just before Bhopal. We took a bus ride to our hotel. But that train journey stuck around with me, it provided me an insight into the life of those a little underprivileged, who travel the entire journey in these compartments.