Sanchi, is a small town near Bhopal. It is a World Heritage site that consists of several Buddhist monuments dating from the 3rd century BC to the 12th century AD. The 'Great Stupa' there was commissioned by the emperor Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BC. It is a pretty impressive Stupa and it was interesting for me to see evidence of the strength of Buddhism as a religion of India during those times.
As an emperor and a convert to Buddhism, Ashoka is reported to have built between 1,000 and 84,000 Stupas, just incase anyone was doubting his commitment to the cause. The Great Stupa in Sanchi is said by many to be the finest example of the Stupas that have survived the test of time - which isn't many, as they were mostly made from wood. Events from the Buddha's past lives are depicted in a series of panels and on the posts and lintels of Sanchi's portals.
It is a pretty amazing place to check out. The skill of the artists who worked on the portals being very impressive. The thing that will stick out most in my mind though from Sanchi, was the stark
naked 80 year old that was being guided around at 7.30am, while I was there. I had been told that nudity was severly frowned upon in India and even that in some cases married couples of 30 years had never seen one another naked. While this is true is some pockets, as I learnt pretty quickly, India is an incredibly varied place and clearly in Sanchi it is quite acceptable to take a guided tour around stark naked. Maybe it had something to do with asceticism - i.e he had renounced the worldy pleasure of clothing - I'm not sure. Anyhow, nobody aside from me seemed to notice or particulary care, an example of the open and tolerant nature of the Indian people when it comes to religion and differing beliefs.
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