Sanchi’s stupas, monasteries, temples and pillars dating from the 3rd century BC to the 12th century AD have been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The most famous of these monuments, Stupa 1, known as the Great Stupa, was originally built by the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka, the then governor of Ujjayini, whose wife Devi was the daughter of a merchant from the adjacent town of Vidisha. Their son Mahindra and daughter Sanghamitra were born in Ujjayini and sent to Sri Lanka, where they converted to king, the queen and their people to Buddhism.
The Sanchi hill goes up in shelves with Stupa 2 situated on a lower shelf, Stupa 1, Stupa 3, the 5th century Gupta Temple No.17 and the 7th century temple No. 18 are on the intermediate shelf and a later monastery is on the crowning shelf. The balustrade surrounding Stupa 2, carved with aniconic representations of the Buddha, was added in the late 2nd century BC under the Satavahanas.
The adjacent Gupta temple no.17 was hailed by Sir John Marshall as one of the most rationally organized structures in Indian architecture. Though small, it was a herald of all the principles which went into the engineering of an Indian temple in the early medieval period. The Buddhas in the perambulatory surrounding Stupa 1 are not contemporary with the Stupa but belong to the Gupta period in the mid-5th century AD. The monastery and the temple with the tall pillars adjacent to Stupa 1 and the temple near the monastery on the crowning shelf illustrate the evolution of the architectural form after the 5th century Gupta temple. – See more at:http://www.incredibleindia.org/…/sanchi/sanchi-introduction…