Sanchi – Buddham Dhammam Sangham

7. Other Stupas


Stupa No 2 – This stupa is located on the western slope of the hill. It is very similar to Stupa 2 in design, construction and size, the only difference is that no gateway is present in the former. Marshall mentions that it was first opened in destroyed by Captain Johnson in 1822. He further writes, in rather curt manner, that the remaining possible destruction was caused by Cunningham during his digging in 1851 however the latter was able to retrieve the relic box.


Stupa No 2


The relic box was of white sandstone, 11 inches long, 9.5 inches wide and 9.5 inches high. It had four steatite caskets inside. Each one contained some fragments of human bone. There is a Brahmi inscription on the side of the box which reads, “(The relics) of all teachers beginning with Arhat Kasapagota and the Arhat Vacchi-Suvijayata, the teacher”. On the lid of the caskets also are small inscriptions giving the names of various teachers who took part in the third Buddhist convocation held during the reign of Ashoka the Great. The ten names found in these inscriptions are, 1) Kasapagota, the teacher of all Hemavats, 2) Majhima, 3) Haritiputa, 4) Vacchi-Suvijayata, 5) Mahavanaya, 6) Apagira, 7) Kodiniputa, 8.) Kosikiputa, 9) Gotiputa, and 10) Mogaliputa.

Tri-ratna motif





Marshall writes that though all these teachers were cotemporary of Ashoka and some like Mogaliputa were pupils of Buddha, it does not put this stupa into the Buddha’s time. It is also not possible that all these people died at the same time that’s why relics of all were enshrined in this stupa. He instead suggests that it would be that the relics of these various teachers were enshrined at many places and someone collected all these relics and put it inside this stupa. As per Marshall, this stupa would have been constructed during the epoch of the Mauryas.





This stupa has its balustrade in proper state. As per Marshall, the decorative reliefs on this are the only of its kind in India and present us the true indigenous character of the Indian art of that time. The subject of these panels or medallions are similar to what we have seen on the gateways of previous two stupas however the execution in the former is rather crude. Many kinds of animals are depicted, lions, winged-lions, elephants, bulls,  horses, deer, makaras etc.

Dhrama-chakra and Bodhi-tree


Many Buddhist motifs are also found, like the four chief events of the Buddha’s life, his birth, enlightenment, first sermon and Mahaparinirvana (death). Maya is seen standing over lotus, yakhsis are seen in various poses. Dharma-chakra, tri-ratna are also found on many medallions.



Stupa No 3

Stupa No 3 – This stupa is situated on the northeast corner of the Great Stupa. This is the only other stupa at site which has entrance gateway but only one flanking the main entrance. The style of construction is very similar to the Great Stupa however in dimension it is very small in comparison to the Great Stupa. Diameter of its dome is 15m, and its height is 8.1m.  A terrace around the dome was built later. It once had a balustrade around it however it has not survived. Marshall writes that the remains of the balustrade were found from the foundation of temple 45 and from these it can be said it was nearly eight feet in eight and ornamented with lotus medallions.


Stupa Gateway

Cunningham excavated this stupa in 1851 and found two relic boxes from inside. Both these stone boxes were inscribed, one of these were engraved the name of Sariputta and on other was Maha-moggalana. The box of Sariputra was made of white steatite and 15 cm broad and 7.5 cm high. Along with a fragment of small bone, the corporeal relic of Sariputra, it contained two small pieces of sandalwood, few beads of garnet, lapis lazuli, crystal, amethyst and pearls. The box of Maha-moggalana contained two pieces of bones. Sariputra and Maha-moggalana were among the most favorite pupils, next to Ananda. Both these boxes were moved to London later.

There are few inscriptions found in this stupa, and based upon paleography of these, it is assigned to second century BCE during the reign of the Shungas. Marshall dated this stupa to the middle of second century BCE and assigns it to contemporary to the rebuilding of the Great Stupa. The only gateway of this stupa is very similar to the gateways of the Great Stupa in design and construction. It is 17 feet high.
West Pillar – Front Face

West Pillar - Front Face


The top panel shows a stupa with harmika and chhatra above the dome. A vedica rail surrounds the stupa. Worshipers are shown standing around the stupa, while more worshipers are shown in below two panels.

West Pillar – East Face

West Pillar - East Face


The top panel shows a Bodhi-tree over a pedestal. A female and a male devotee stand on either side of the tree while two vidhyadharas holding garlands above the tree. More worshipers are shown on the panel below.

The lowest panel depicts a dvarpala who is standing very straight and restricted within the panel. He is wearing very heavy earrings and a broad necklace. He is holding a flower in his right hand.

West Pillar – South Face

West Pillar - South Face


The top panel represents the first sermon in Mrigadava (Deer Park) at Sarnath. Dharma-chakra is mounted over a pillar with devotees on either side. Deer are shown at the base of the panel suggesting the location.

The panel below the above shows a Bodhi-tree over a pedestal with devotees on either side.

The lowest panel shows a couple with children, the mother is shown breastfeeding her child. Above them is probably a music assemble where a female dancer is dancing in middle while few musicians are playing on instruments.

East Pillar – Front Face

East Pillar - Front Face


The top panel shows a pillar, very similar to Ashoka pillars, a fluted pedestal with a base capital on top. Three lions are put on top of the capital and they support dharma-chakra (wheel of law) on top. Devotees are standing on either side of the pillar. Below two panels depicts devotees in two rows on each panel.

East Pillar – West Face

Bodhi Tree




The top panel shows a Bodhi-tree over a pedestal. Devotees are standing on either side of the tree while two vidhyadharas are holding garlands above the tree. More worshippers are shown on the panel below.



The lowest panel depicts a dvarpala who is standing very straight and restricted within the panel. He is wearing very heavy earrings and a broad necklace. He is holding a flower in his right hand and two flowers in his left hand.

Architrave – Front

Architraves - Front


During the restoration of this stupa, the topmost architrave was put in opposite direction. The current front panel depicts flower foliage and creeper arrangement which is also seen on many pillars and architraves of the Great Stupa.

Middle architrave has three stupas and two trees, representing five of the seven Manushi Buddhas.



The lower architrave represents Indra’s paradise. Indra is seen seated in the middle pavilion with many females. Many couples and animals are strewn all around. River Mandakini flows to the right of the pavilion. On the left is seen a horse-headed female which Marshall identifies with Ashvamukhi Yakshi to whom Bodhisattva was once born. Celestial heroes are shown fighting with makaras in the river. At the terminals is shown two Naga couples, the male having five hoods and female only single.

Architraves – Back

Architraves - Back


The top architrave is much broken, it depicts two Bodhi trees. Probably it was a representation of seven Manushi Buddhas and the broken parts were having the missing trees and stupas.

The below two architraves, middle and lower, represent flower foliage and creeper theme as seen on the front face of the top architrave.

Stupa No 4



Stupa No 4 – This Stupa is located just behind north-east of the Stupa 3. It is almost in complete ruins but from what remained it can be said that its design and style was similar to its neighboring stupas which suggests that it was contemporary to those. There is no sign of balustrade or terrace and probably these were not ever constructed. However there would have been a harmika above the dome as a carved coping stone was found near it.

Stupa No 5


Stupa No 5 – This stupa differs from others in that it is built over a circular plinth of diameter 11.7m, and not a square one in other cases. On its southern side there was a seated Budhha image in meditating posture; its fixed on a pedestal. However this statue is no more there now. Stylistically, the stupa can be assigned to the 6th century AD.

Stupa No 6


Stupa No 6 – This stupa is situated on the east of temple 18. As per Marshall this stupa also dates from the early epoch of construction. Like other medieval stupas of this site, this stupa is built on a square plinth of 11.85 m side and does not rise much in altitude, 1.6 m high. It was heavily repaired in 7th-8th century CE.

Stupa No 7 – This stupa is of the same period that of the stupa 5. It is constructed on a square plinth, 29 feet side, and rises to a height of 6 feet. This stupa was opened by Cunningham however he did not find anything inside.

Stupa No 12-16 – These stupas are arranged in two rows near temple 17. All of these are very similar in size, style and design. From the debris of stupa 12 was discovered a statue pedestal of the Kushana period executed in Mathura style. The pedestal was broken but had an incomplete inscription which reads that the statue it was supporting was of Buddha Maitreya. An another statue was discovered from the western wall of the stupa 14. This statue represents Buddha seated cross-legged in meditation. Marshall suggests that this statue could be of the Gupta period.

Stupa No 28 & 29 – These two stupas are situated on either side of the staircase of the temple 31. Relic chamber of the stupa 29 yielded a casket containing a small cup of coarse earthenware. Inside this was found two small bone relics and remains of a broken vase of fine terracotta. A pedestal of Buddha statue was also found and it carried an inscription reading ‘this statue of Bhagvat Shakyamuni was installed by one Vidhyamati in the 22nd regnal year of king Vaskushana’.

Back to Main Page