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How To Visit Sanchi, India


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Jeannie Wheat



Welcome to the ancient city of Sanchi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the heart of India. Nestled on a serene hilltop in the state of Madhya Pradesh, Sanchi is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and stunning archaeological wonders. This historic site is a testament to the rich history and architectural brilliance of ancient India, particularly the Mauryan period.


Sanchi is most famous for its Great Stupa, a massive dome-shaped monument that stands as one of the oldest stone structures in India. Built in the 3rd century BCE by Emperor Ashoka, the Great Stupa is a significant pilgrimage site for Buddhists around the world. Its intricate carvings, mesmerizing sculptures, and serene atmosphere make it a truly awe-inspiring place.


But Sanchi is not just about the Great Stupa. The city is dotted with other mesmerizing monuments, such as the Ashoka Pillar, the Toranas (ornamental gateways), and various temples that showcase the artistic brilliance of ancient Indian craftsmanship.


Visiting Sanchi is like stepping back in time, immersing yourself in the grandeur of ancient Indian civilization. The intricate carvings and sculptures tell stories of a bygone era, while the peaceful surroundings allow for contemplation and reflection.


Getting to Sanchi is relatively easy. The nearest major city, Bhopal, is well-connected by air, rail, and road. From Bhopal, it’s just a short drive to reach Sanchi, making it an ideal day trip or a weekend getaway.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a spiritual seeker, or simply someone who appreciates architectural beauty, Sanchi has something to offer everyone. In this article, we will guide you through the must-visit attractions in Sanchi, provide helpful tips, and ensure you have an unforgettable experience in this ancient city.


Getting to Sanchi

Sanchi is conveniently located in the central part of India, making it easily accessible by various modes of transportation. Here are the most common ways to reach Sanchi:

  • By Air: The nearest airport to Sanchi is Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal, which is well-connected to major cities in India such as Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. From the airport, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Sanchi, which is approximately 50 kilometers away.
  • By Train: Bhopal Junction is the nearest major railway station to Sanchi, and it is well-connected to various cities in India. There are regular trains from cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai to Bhopal. From Bhopal, you can hire a taxi or take a local bus to reach Sanchi, which is around 45 kilometers away.
  • By Road: Sanchi is well-connected by road, and you can easily reach it by taking a bus or hiring a taxi. The National Highway 86 passes through Sanchi, making it accessible from nearby cities and towns.

Once you reach Sanchi, the best way to explore the site and its surroundings is on foot. The main attractions are within a short walking distance from each other, and the peaceful atmosphere allows for a leisurely stroll.


It’s important to note that Sanchi is a religious site, and visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully. Make sure to wear appropriate attire that covers your shoulders and knees, and remove your footwear before entering the main monuments.


Exploring Sanchi can be a bit tiring, so it’s advisable to carry a bottle of water and wear comfortable walking shoes. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to carry a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun.


In the next sections, we will delve into the main attractions that make Sanchi a must-visit destination. From the iconic Great Stupa to the Sanchi Archaeological Museum, there’s so much to discover in this ancient city.


Exploring the Great Stupa

The Great Stupa is the crown jewel of Sanchi and one of the most iconic Buddhist monuments in the world. Built over 2,000 years ago, this magnificent structure stands as a testament to the architectural and artistic brilliance of ancient India.


As you approach the Great Stupa, you’ll be greeted by the sight of a massive dome, adorned with intricately carved gateways known as Toranas. These gateways depict various scenes from the life of Gautam Buddha and offer a glimpse into the rich Buddhist heritage.


Step inside the Great Stupa, and you’ll be surrounded by a sense of tranquility and spirituality. The inner chamber of the Stupa houses relics of Lord Buddha, making it a revered site for Buddhist pilgrims from all over the world.


Take your time to explore the Stupa and admire the detailed carvings and sculptures that adorn its walls. Each carving tells a story, and the skill and precision with which they were created are truly awe-inspiring. Marvel at the delicate lotus motifs, the intricate depictions of celestial beings, and the serene faces of Buddha.


One of the highlights of the Great Stupa is the Ashoka Pillar, located near the southern gateway. This ornate pillar bears inscriptions by Emperor Ashoka, who played a crucial role in spreading Buddhism across India. The pillar stands tall as a symbol of Ashoka’s devotion to the Buddhist faith.


As you explore the Great Stupa, you’ll also come across smaller stupas and monuments scattered around the complex. These structures, known as subsidiary stupas, add to the overall grandeur of the site and provide further insight into ancient Buddhist practices.


Visiting the Great Stupa is a truly immersive experience that allows you to connect with the spiritual essence of Buddhism and appreciate the timeless beauty of ancient Indian architecture. Take your time to absorb the peaceful ambiance and let the serenity of the surroundings wash over you.


Don’t forget to capture the beauty of the Great Stupa in your photographs, but remember to be respectful of the sanctity of the site and avoid using flash or causing any disturbance to fellow visitors.


Next, we’ll guide you to the Sanchi Archaeological Museum, where you can delve deeper into the history and artifacts of this ancient city.


Visiting the Sanchi Archaeological Museum

If you want to further explore the rich history and artifacts of Sanchi, a visit to the Sanchi Archaeological Museum is a must. Located near the main entrance of the Great Stupa, this museum houses a remarkable collection of artifacts that provide insights into the ancient past of Sanchi.


The Sanchi Archaeological Museum showcases a wide range of artifacts, including sculptures, pottery, coins, and terracotta objects dating back to the Mauryan and Gupta periods. These artifacts offer a glimpse into the artistic and cultural heritage of Sanchi and help visitors understand the significance of the site.


As you explore the museum, you’ll come across well-preserved statues of Buddha, Bodhisattvas, and various gods and goddesses of the Buddhist and Hindu pantheon. The intricate details and artistic finesse of these sculptures are truly captivating, allowing you to appreciate the skill of ancient artisans.


The museum also houses a collection of ancient relics found during excavations, such as seals, inscriptions, and fragments of architecture. These relics provide valuable insights into the life and beliefs of the people who lived in Sanchi during ancient times.


One of the highlights of the museum is the original lion capital of the Ashoka Pillar, which was discovered near the Great Stupa. This iconic piece is considered one of the national symbols of India and is a testimony to the historical significance of Sanchi.


While exploring the museum, you can also learn about the architecture and history of various Buddhist stupas and monasteries from the Mauryan and Gupta periods. The museum offers detailed explanations and audiovisual presentations that enhance the overall experience and make it more engaging.


Visiting the Sanchi Archaeological Museum provides a deeper understanding of the rich heritage and archaeological significance of Sanchi. It complements the experience of exploring the Great Stupa and allows you to appreciate the artistry and historical context of this ancient site.


After immersing yourself in the history and artifacts of Sanchi, it’s time to discover other monuments and attractions in the city. In the next section, we will guide you through some of the must-visit sites in Sanchi beyond the Great Stupa and the museum.


Discovering Other Monuments in Sanchi

Sanchi is not only famous for its Great Stupa, but it is also home to several other magnificent monuments that showcase the rich history and architectural brilliance of ancient India. As you explore beyond the Great Stupa, you’ll discover a fascinating array of structures that further highlight the cultural heritage of Sanchi.


One of the most notable monuments is the Ashoka Pillar, located near the southern gateway of the Great Stupa. This intricately carved pillar stands tall as a symbol of Emperor Ashoka’s patronage of Buddhism. The pillar bears inscriptions in Brahmi script and depicts various edicts and religious symbols.


Another significant structure is the Gupta Temple, located near the village of Murelkhurd. This temple, dating back to the Gupta period, showcases exquisite carvings and architectural elements reminiscent of ancient Indian temple architecture. The Gupta Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts.


As you explore the surroundings of Sanchi, you’ll also come across several smaller stupas and monasteries. These structures, though not as grand as the Great Stupa, offer a glimpse into the monastic life and the influence of Buddhism in the region during ancient times.


One such structure is the Sanchi III stupa, also known as the Gupta stupa. This smaller stupa features a circular base and intricate carvings, making it an interesting site to visit and compare with the grandeur of the Great Stupa.


Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Buddhist Viharas or monastic dwellings in Sanchi. These ancient structures were home to Buddhist monks who dedicated their lives to practicing and spreading the teachings of Buddha.


Other notable monuments to explore include the Northern Gateway and the Southern Gateway, both adorned with beautiful carvings and elaborate sculptures that depict various scenes from Buddhist mythology and history.


As you wander through the complex, take the time to admire the detailed workmanship and historical significance of each monument. Engage in the serene ambiance and let the ancient energy of these structures transport you back in time.


Next, we’ll dive into the vibrant cultural experience of the Sanchi Festival, giving you a taste of the local traditions and celebrations.


Experiencing the Sanchi Festival

The Sanchi Festival is a vibrant celebration that brings together the local community and visitors from all over the world. This annual festival, held in the months of December or January, showcases the rich cultural heritage and traditions of Sanchi.


The festival offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local customs, music, dance, and art forms. The main attraction of the Sanchi Festival is the colorful and lively performances by folk artists, showcasing the traditional music and dance forms of Madhya Pradesh.


During the festival, you can witness captivating performances of folk dance styles such as Giddha, Matki dance, Lezim, and Kalbelia. These dynamic performances are accompanied by melodious folk music and live instrumentalists playing traditional instruments like dholak, harmonium, and sarangi.


One of the highlights of the Sanchi Festival is the traditional processions that are carried out in the ancient streets of Sanchi. These processions feature beautifully decorated elephants, camels, and horses, along with cultural troupes showcasing the rich heritage of the region.


The festival also includes various cultural competitions and events, providing a platform for local artists and performers to showcase their talents. You can witness traditional art forms like pottery making, painting, weaving, and sculpting, as local artisans demonstrate their skills and creativity.


Food lovers are in for a treat during the Sanchi Festival, as the event showcases the delectable flavors of local cuisine. You can savor mouth-watering traditional dishes like Dal Bafla, Bhopali Kebabs, Poha, and Malpua, among others.


Besides the cultural performances and culinary delights, the festival also hosts informative lectures and discussions on the history and significance of Sanchi. This provides an opportunity to learn about the ancient heritage and architectural marvels of the region.


Attending the Sanchi Festival is not just about entertainment; it’s a chance to connect with the local culture, interact with the warm-hearted people of Sanchi, and forge lasting memories of this enchanting city.


As the festival dates may vary each year, it is advisable to check the official tourism websites or local sources for updates on the festivity schedule prior to planning your visit.


After immersing yourself in the festive spirit, it’s time to explore the culinary delights of Sanchi. In the next section, we’ll guide you through the local cuisine and where to find the best food in the city.


Enjoying Local Cuisine in Sanchi

Exploring Sanchi is not just about delving into its rich history and cultural heritage; it’s also an opportunity to indulge in the delectable flavors of local cuisine. The region offers a unique culinary experience that reflects the traditional flavors of Madhya Pradesh.


One dish that you must try when visiting Sanchi is Dal Bafla. This iconic local specialty consists of steamed and then baked wheat bread balls served with a flavorful lentil curry, known as dal. The soft and savory bafla pairs perfectly with the spicy dal, creating a satisfying and wholesome meal.


If you’re a fan of kebabs, be sure to try the Bhopali Kebabs. These succulent and aromatic meat kebabs, made from finely minced meat marinated with a blend of spices, are a culinary delight. They are traditionally cooked in a tandoor (clay oven) to enhance the smoky flavor.


An all-time favorite breakfast dish in the region is Poha. Made from flattened rice, Poha is cooked with onions, mustard seeds, turmeric, and other spices, creating a flavorful and light dish. It’s often enjoyed with a cup of hot tea, making it the perfect way to start your day in Sanchi.


For those with a sweet tooth, Malpua is a must-try dessert. These sweet pancakes are made from a batter of flour, milk, and sugar, and then deep-fried until golden and crispy. They are typically served with a drizzle of sugar syrup or a dollop of rabri (thickened sweetened milk).


When it comes to street food, you’ll find a variety of snacks to tantalize your taste buds. From piping hot samosas and kachoris (deep-fried stuffed pastries) to tangy aloo tikkis (potato patties) and refreshing kulfi (Indian ice cream), the street food scene in Sanchi will leave you craving for more.


To experience the authentic flavors of Sanchi, head to the local restaurants and eateries located in the vicinity of the Great Stupa. Here, you can indulge in traditional dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients and cooked with love and expertise.


Don’t forget to pair your meal with a refreshing glass of the famed Sanchi lassi. This yogurt-based drink, flavored with saffron, rosewater, or mango, is a perfect way to cool down and quench your thirst after a day of exploration in the city.


As you explore Sanchi, keep an eye out for local food stalls and small eateries that offer authentic and delicious street food. These hidden gems often serve up mouth-watering delicacies that are loved by locals and visitors alike.


Now that you’ve satisfied your taste buds with the local cuisine, it’s time to indulge in some retail therapy. In the next section, we’ll explore the shopping scene in Sanchi and guide you to the best places to find unique souvenirs and handicrafts.


Shopping in Sanchi

Shopping in Sanchi is a delightful experience, offering an opportunity to take home unique souvenirs and handicrafts that showcase the rich artistic heritage of the region. Here are some of the best places to explore for shopping in Sanchi:


The Sanchi Emporium, located near the Great Stupa, is a one-stop-shop for traditional handicrafts, textiles, and souvenirs. Here, you can find intricately designed brassware, exquisite wood carvings, colorful fabrics, and local artwork that make for perfect keepsakes or gifts.


If you’re interested in Buddhist artifacts and religious items, the Sanchi Bhikshu Emporium is the place to visit. This store specializes in Buddhist art and literature, offering a wide range of books on Buddhism, prayer flags, statues, prayer beads, and other religious items.


For a taste of the local craftsmanship, head to the local bazaars and markets in Sanchi. Here, you’ll find a variety of products made by local artisans, including handwoven textiles, intricately embroidered garments, terracotta figurines, and traditional pottery.


One of the specialties of the region is Chanderi silk, renowned for its lightweight texture and intricate weaving patterns. The Chanderi Silk Saris and fabrics are sought after by fashion enthusiasts, and you can find a range of options in Sanchi and nearby towns.


Don’t miss the opportunity to purchase traditional tribal jewelry, known for its unique designs and vibrant colors. From chunky silver necklaces to colorful beadwork, these pieces of jewelry are a testament to the rich tribal heritage of Madhya Pradesh.


Sanchi is also known for its high-quality honey and natural products. You can find locally sourced honey, organic spices, essential oils, and herbal products in specialized stores. These natural products make for great gifts or souvenirs.


As you shop in Sanchi, remember to engage with the local artisans and understand the stories behind their creations. This not only adds value to your shopping experience but also supports the local economy and helps preserve traditional crafts.


Keep in mind that bargaining is a common practice in markets and smaller shops in Sanchi. So feel free to negotiate prices and strike a deal that suits both you and the vendor.


Remember to check the authenticity and quality of the products before making a purchase. Look for government-approved emporiums and shops that ensure genuine items and support fair trade practices.


Shopping in Sanchi offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the region and allows you to bring home a piece of this ancient city. So, get ready to shop till you drop and cherish the memories of your visit long after you leave Sanchi.


Now that we’ve explored the shopping scene in Sanchi, let’s move on to the accommodation options available in the city to ensure a comfortable and convenient stay during your visit.


Accommodation Options in Sanchi

When visiting Sanchi, there are several accommodation options available that cater to different budgets and preferences. Whether you’re looking for luxury hotels or budget-friendly guesthouses, Sanchi has something to offer for every traveler. Here are some of the best accommodation options in Sanchi:


1. Luxury Hotels: For those seeking a luxurious stay, there are a few upscale hotels in Sanchi that offer comfortable rooms, excellent amenities, and top-notch services. These hotels often provide stunning views of the surrounding landscapes and ensure a memorable stay with their world-class facilities.


2. Mid-Range Hotels: If you’re looking for a comfortable stay without breaking the bank, mid-range hotels in Sanchi are a great option. These hotels offer clean and well-appointed rooms, along with basic amenities that ensure a pleasant stay. Many of these hotels also have in-house restaurants where you can savor local and international cuisine.


3. Guesthouses and Homestays: For a more intimate and authentic experience, consider staying at a guesthouse or homestay in Sanchi. These options allow you to interact with local families, experience their warm hospitality, and get a glimpse into the local way of life. Guesthouses and homestays often provide cozy rooms and homemade meals that make you feel right at home.


4. Budget Accommodations: If you’re traveling on a tight budget, there are affordable accommodation options available in Sanchi. These budget hotels and lodges offer clean and basic rooms, perfect for travelers who are looking for a comfortable place to rest without spending a fortune.


It’s recommended to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to ensure availability. You can check online travel websites or contact local tourism offices for information on the best accommodation options in Sanchi.


Keep in mind that Sanchi is a small town, and the availability of accommodation may be limited compared to larger cities. However, the warm hospitality and tranquil ambiance of this ancient city more than make up for it.


Whichever accommodation option you choose, make sure to consider its proximity to the main attractions in Sanchi. Being in close proximity to the Great Stupa and other monuments will allow you to maximize your time and explore the city conveniently.


Now that you’re aware of the accommodation options in Sanchi, it’s time to prepare for your visit. In the next section, we’ll provide essential tips to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience while exploring this ancient city.


Essential Tips for Visiting Sanchi

When planning a visit to Sanchi, it’s important to keep a few essential tips in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to make the most of your visit:


1. Best Time to Visit: The ideal time to visit Sanchi is during the winter months, from November to February, when the weather is pleasant and comfortable for exploring the outdoor attractions. Avoid visiting during the scorching summer months, as the temperature can get quite high, making it uncomfortable for sightseeing.


2. Dress Modestly: Sanchi is a religious site, so it’s important to dress modestly and respectfully. Ensure your clothing covers your shoulders and knees, as a sign of respect for the religious sentiments of the place. It’s also advisable to remove your footwear before entering the main monuments and temples.


3. Sun Protection: Sanchi can get quite sunny, especially during the summer months. It’s essential to carry and wear sun protection such as hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. These will help protect you from the harsh sun rays and prevent sunburns.


4. Hydration: As you explore the monuments and walk around, it’s crucial to stay hydrated. Carry a bottle of water with you and ensure you drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. This will help you stay energized and comfortable while exploring the sites.


5. Photography: Sanchi offers numerous photo opportunities, but remember to be respectful while taking photographs. Avoid using flash photography, especially inside the monuments, as it may disturb other visitors or cause damage to the artifacts. Always ask for permission before taking pictures of locals or religious ceremonies.


6. Guided Tours: Consider taking a guided tour of Sanchi to gain in-depth knowledge about the history, architecture, and significance of the monuments. A knowledgeable guide can provide valuable insights and enhance your overall experience of exploring the site.


7. Local Festivals: If possible, plan your visit to coincide with the Sanchi Festival, held in December or January each year. This vibrant festival offers a unique opportunity to witness traditional music, dance performances, cultural processions, and indulge in local culinary delights.


8. Respect Local Customs: While in Sanchi, respect the local customs and traditions. Follow the rules and regulations set by the authorities and be mindful of the sensitivity of the religious sites. Avoid touching or climbing on the monuments and be considerate of fellow visitors who come for spiritual and meditative purposes.


9. Explore Beyond Sanchi: Sanchi is located in close proximity to other attractions in Madhya Pradesh. Consider exploring nearby destinations like Bhopal, Ujjain, and Bhimbetka, which offer their own unique historical and cultural marvels. You can plan day trips or include these places in your itinerary to make the most of your visit to the region.


By keeping these essential tips in mind, you can have a fulfilling and enriching experience while visiting Sanchi. Remember to embrace the spiritual and cultural essence of the place, be respectful, and immerse yourself in the fascinating history and architectural wonders of this ancient city.


As we conclude our guide to Sanchi, we hope it has inspired you to embark on a journey to explore the captivating heritage of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Plan your visit, pack your essentials, and get ready to create lasting memories in the mesmerizing town of Sanchi.



Visiting Sanchi, India is a journey that takes you back in time to experience the rich history, architectural marvels, and cultural heritage of ancient India. From the iconic Great Stupa to the intricate carvings and sculptures that adorn the monuments, Sanchi offers a glimpse into the grandeur and spirituality of an era long gone.


Getting to Sanchi is relatively easy, with well-connected transportation options via air, train, or road. Once you arrive, take your time to explore the Great Stupa, its inner chambers, and the fascinating Ashoka Pillar. Immerse yourself in the peaceful atmosphere and admire the intricate craftsmanship that tells stories of the past.


Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Sanchi Archaeological Museum, which houses a remarkable collection of artifacts that provide further insights into the ancient heritage of the region. Discovering other monuments in Sanchi, such as the Gupta Temple and the subsidiary stupas, adds to the enriching experience of the city.


To truly immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions, plan your visit to coincide with the vibrant Sanchi Festival. Witness the folk performances, processions, and indulge in the flavors of local cuisine to enhance your understanding and appreciation of the region.


Shopping in Sanchi allows you to take home unique souvenirs and handicrafts, showcasing the artistic prowess of the local artisans. And when it’s time to rest, the accommodation options in Sanchi cater to various budgets and preferences, ensuring a comfortable and convenient stay in this ancient city.


As you prepare for your visit, remember to follow the essential tips, such as dressing modestly, staying hydrated, and respecting local customs. Engage with the local guides, artisans, and community to enhance your experience and create lasting memories.


Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a spiritual seeker, or a curious traveler, Sanchi has something to offer everyone. It’s a place where ancient history comes alive, where spirituality blends with architectural brilliance, and where each step unveils the stories of a bygone era.


So plan your trip to Sanchi, embark on this remarkable journey, and let the serene surroundings and cultural treasures of this ancient city leave an indelible mark on your soul.