Saturday, September 29, 2012

Udayagiri and Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh

On the way to Sanchi from Bhopal we visited the famous Udaygiri caves. The Udayagiri Caves are an early Hindu ritual site located near Vidisha in the state of Madhya Pradesh. They were extensively carved and reworked under the command of Chandragupta II, Emperor of the Gupta Empire, in the late 4th and 5th century C.


The most famous sculpture is the monumental figure of Viṣhṇu in his incarnation as the boar-headed Varaha in Cave 5.


Cave 4 has a unique Shiva linga. The hair is tied up into a topknot with long locks cascading down each side. The arrangement of the hair depicts the story of how Shiva broke the fall of the River Gaṅga as she came down from heaven.


Of special note also is the figure of seated Gaṇeśa, being the oldest datable Gaṇesha in India, to the left of the entrance to cave 6.


Cave 12 consists of a niche containing a standing figure of Narasimha, Vishṇu in his 'Lion-man' incarnation. Below on either side are two small standing attendant figures.


Cave 13 contains a large figure of Narayaṇa, the recumbent figure of Vishṇu resting. Beside the image of Narayaṇa is a kneeling devotee, and it is believed that this figure is a depiction of Chandragupta II himself, symbolising his devotion to Vishṇu.

We moved on to Sanchi which was just 14kms away and checked into MPTDC’s Gateway Retreat which


had a beautiful ambiance.
Post lunch we drove down to the Sanchi stupa. Sanchi is the location of several Buddhist monuments dating
from the 3rd century BC to the 12th C and is one of the important places of Buddhist pilgrimage. It takes about an hour and a half for a non-research visit of the site. Photography is allowed and audio guides are available.
Ref Wiki :-

The 'Great Stupa' at Sanchi is the oldest stone structure in India and was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BCE. Its nucleus was a simple hemispherical brick 


structure built over the relics of the Buddha. It was crowned by the chatra, a parasol-like structure symbolising high rank, which was intended to honour and shelter the relics. It has four profusely 


carved ornamental gateways and a balustrade encircling the whole structure. Although made of stone, they were carved and constructed in the manner of wood and the gateways were covered with narrative sculptures. They showed scenes from the life of the Buddha integrated with everyday events that would be familiar to the onlookers and so make it easier for them to understand the Buddhist creed as relevant to their lives. At Sanchi and most other stupas the local population donated money for the embellishment of the stupa to attain spiritual merit. There was no direct royal patronage. Devotees, both men and women, who donated money towards a sculpture would often choose their favourite scene from the life of the Buddha and then have their names inscribed on it. This accounts for the random repetition of particular episodes on the stupa (Dehejia 1992). On these stone carvings the Buddha was never depicted as a human figure. Instead the artists chose to represent him by certain attributes, such as the horse on which he left his father’s home, his footprints, or a canopy under the bodhi tree at the point of his enlightenment. The human body was thought to be too confining for the Buddha.

It was an awe inspiring visit. There were plenty of devotees there but the silence they maintained was


admirable. Only their group leader would gather them under some tree or near one of the gates and talk to them about the importance of the monument and the devotees would whisper in awe. How I wish all our religious centres would maintain the same discipline and respectful silence.

32 comments:

  1. Awesome photography and great narration. Loved this.

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  3. Wow, beautiful historical sites coupled with good photography.
    Keep it up :)

    Regards

    Jay
    http://road-to-sanitarium.blogspot.in

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  4. Wow what spectacular pictures...I have already made a note to visit Udayagiri soon. Can I share the link of your post on my facebook page with due credits to you?

    Thanks
    Priya
    http://aalayamkanden.blogspot.in

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    1. Thank you Priya. Sure you can share the link with due credits.

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  5. I wonder as to hoe you could manage to get such a beautiful picture of the reclining Vishnu as the rock has withered. Ganesha has also come out exceptionally well. Thanks for a beautiful post/

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    1. Thank you Subramanian. The aperture magic Sir!

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  6. enjoyed the pics along with the splendid narration !

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  7. Lovely post , with beautiful pictures. Thanks.

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  8. You revived memories with these excellent images.

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  9. Terrific shots, Deepak. And the narration made the tour even more enjoyable. Thanks!!

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  10. Beautiful pictures and write up is also very interesting and readable...

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  11. Nice post and pics thanx for sharing...

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    1. Thank you Ajeeth. Pleasure to share!

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  12. Aw, this takes me back to my history book! Just that the great stupa is more magnificent in your blog!

    Do stop by my blog! I'd love your comments & visits!!

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    1. Thank you so much Kappu! Just made my day!!

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  13. Nice post with beautiful captures.

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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  14. Udayagiri is really a wonderful piece of rock-cut caves. Showcasing the glorious history of Gupta Empire. You can club you trip with the World Heritage Center Sanchi Stupa, it is just few kilometer distance from this place.

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