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Sanchi is a high hill in central India which was a major centre of Buddhism for over a thousand years. The ancient name of the place was Chetiyagiri, ‘The Hill of Shrines.’

There are seven stūpas on the hill, the largest was built by King Ashoka in the 2nd century BCE and enlarged a hundred years later. The four gateways around the stūpa are beautifully and intricately carved and are considered some of the finest examples of early Indian art. They depict scenes from the life of the Buddha, Jataka stories, gods, animals and floral designs. Near this stūpa is a smaller one. When it was opened by archeologists a casket was found containing the relics of Sariputta and Moggallana, the Buddha’s two chief disciples. Another stūpa was found to contain the relics of several monks, including three who are mentioned in ancient records as having participated in the third Council and were then sent as missionaries to the Himalayan region, probably Kashmir. The last of Sanchi’s several monasteries was built in the 11th century. According to ancient records, the monk Mahinda embarked on his mission to Sri Lanka from Sanchi.