to refresh your soul? Visit the land, which has
patronised Buddhism for more than two millenniums.
A land, which cherishes Buddha's principles
of moral code, tranquillity and wisdom. Now you
may wonder how it all started.
Between the 3rd centaury BC and 7th centuary AD,
during the rule of the Maurya, Satavahana,
Ikshvaku and Vshnukundin kings, Buddhism
soared to new heights in this land. It received
an impetus especially due to the missionary zeal
of Asoka Maurya. Buddhism also kindled
the creative genius of the people of this land.
One can see it in the beauty of the stupas at
Amaravati, Nagarjunakonda and other Buddhist
sites here. The Amaravati School of Art which
was inspired by the life of Buddha and the Jataka
stories, is considered to be one of the most
exquisite examples of sculpture that has ever
been produced in India. In fact, the Andhra art
influenced the art forms of Sir Lanka and Suvarna
Bhumi, that is the South-east Asian countries.
Andhra Pradesh has witnessed the three
phases of Buddhism - Hinayana, Mahayana and
Vajrayana. Today, you can see the edifices
dedicated to celebrate the memory of Sakyamuni
Gautam Buddha. There are as many as 140 Buddhist
sites. Many are still lying buried. This is the
only state where as many as 19 Buddhist relic
caskets have been recovered so far.
Buddhaghosha, a revered name in Theravada tradition
was born in Guntur district. He later
travelled to Sir Lanka, and mastered the Pali
Texts. He was considered to be the Second
Buddha. Andhra Pradesh was also home to a galaxy
of brilliant scholars like Nagarjuna, Aryadeva,
Asanga, Dignaga, Vasubandhu and Dharmkirti.
Come; begin your search for nirvana. Discover
a wealth of Buddhist heritage sites.
hundred years ago, Vijayapuri served as the
capital of the Ikshvaku kingdom, and was home to
a centre of Buddhist learning. Today, in its place
flourishes Nagarjunasagar, a modern township
named after Acharya Nagarjuna, the founder
and father of Mahayana Buddhism. Relics of the Buddhist
civilization found here, date back to the 3rd century
AD. The excavated remains were reconstructed have
been carefully preserved at Nagarjunakonda, a unique
island-museum in the midst of the man-made Nagarjunasagar
Lake. The museum has been constructed in the shape
of a Buddhist vihara and houses a stupendous collection
of relics of Buddha, Buddhist art and culture. The
main stupa called the Mahachaitya contains the sacred
relics of Buddha. The centre of attraction is a
partly ruined monolithic statue of Buddha in a striking
image of peace and poise.
The cultural remains of ancient man ranging from
the prehistoric to the Neolithic period,
a university, vihara, monasteries and an 'Aswamedha'
sacrificial altar dating back to the early historic
period have been unearthed here. The royal ladies
of the Ikshvaku kingdom built most of the monasteries.
During the construction of Nagarjunasagar Dam,
the ruins of an ancient Buddhist university were
unearthed here. These have been reconstructed at
Anupu, 4 kilometres away from the right bank of
the reservoir. What's more, a 3rd century vihara
and an amphitheatre with fine acoustics takes one
important Buddhist site located near the ancient
Satavahana capital Dhanyaktaka, is
now called Amaravati. It was one of the four
renowned Buddhist centres of learning in the country,
which attracted students from all over the world.
It gave fillip to art, architecture, trade, and
facilitated the spread of Buddhism on the east coast.
Today in South India, Buddhists consider it as the
most sacred pilgrim centre.
Many years ago, an emissary of Emperor Asoka, who
went to propagate Buddhism in this region, laid
the foundation of the Great Stupa at Amaravati.
The dome, now missing, seems to have built solidly
of large-sized bricks measuring 57x28x7.6 cm., presently
it has a height of about 1.55 m and a diameter of
49.30 m. The stupa may well have been the one to
have the largest marble-surfaced dome in the world!
The dome and the outer and inner sides of the railing
were richly adorned with carvings, depicting events
from the life of Buddha. Locally, the Mahastupa
is known as 'Deepaladinne' or 'Mound of
To give you a glimpse of the past, a miniature
model of the stupa and some of the original panels,
have been preserved in a museum on the site. You
can see several statues and friezes relating Jataka
is a Buddhist site of great significance about 150
kms form Viajayawada. Take a look at a unique
double terraced stupa on top of a hillock known
as Singarakonda. It's probably the only one
of its kind in elevation in South India. Excavations
have revealed more than 30 beautifully carved limestone
panels that once decorated the dome, drum, and railing
of the stupa. Apsidal and circular chaityagrihas,
viharas and several minor stupas are located on
spot, about 85 kms. From Vijayawada, is considered
to be the most beautiful Buddhist site in Eastern
Deccan. In this horseshoe shaped valley, one can
see rock-cut chityas, votive stupas and viharas
which predate the Ajanta and Ellora
caves. Dignaga, the great Budhist
Logician, is believed to have lived in this
this lovely Buddhist site located 41 kilometres
from Visakhapatnam. The name Sankaram comes
from the tern Sangharama. Numerous monolithic
votive stupas, rock-cut caves, brick-built structural
edifices, early historic pottery and Satavahana
coins dating back to the 1st century AD have been
discovered here. The main stupa was first carved
out of a rock and then veneered with bricks. Close
by, you can visit other Budhist sites like Bojjanakonda,
which has numerous images of Buddha carved on
the rock-face of the caves. At Lingalametta, there
are innumerable rock-cut monolithic stupas in
rows, spread all over the hill. Other attractions
are a relic casket, three chaitya halls, votive
platforms, stupas and Vajrayana sculptures. The
vihara was active for about 1000 years, spanning
the Thervada, Mahayana and Vajrayana phases of
Come, explore Salihundam. On the right bank
of river Vamsadhara, about 116 kms, from
Visakhapatnam, in the Srikakulam district,
there are a number of Buddhist stupas and a huge
monastic complex on a hillock amidst scenic surroundings.
You can see a mahastupa, votive stupas, platforms
and viharas. There is distinct evidence of the
presence of the Vajrayana cult. The statues of
Tara and Marichi were discovered
at his site. From here, Buddhism spread to Sumatra
and other Far-eastern countries.
Buddhist Art & Culture
Stupas were constructed by lay people for enshrining
the relics of Lord Buddha. The symbolism of the
stupa is varied. According to some, the dome depicts
the bubble, reflecting the transience of life. Some
say the spire on the top of the dome suggests Buddha's
compassion, the dome itself represents nirvana and
the square base symbolises moral restraint. The
domes are covered with carved marble panels depicting
Buddhist symbols, scenes from Buddha's life and
Tathagata was worshipped through symbols
such as Buddhapada, Wheel, Bodhi Tree and Triratna.
The Andhra art style (Amaravati School of Art)
of creative expression has its bearings on the
subsequent art styles of South India and the countries
of Asia. A unique feature of Amarvati is the symbol
of a flaming trisula (trident). The bas-reliefs
of Amaravati are the best examples of Indian sculpture.
For further information and
help in planning your Buddhist tour, contact:
Andhra Pradesh Tourist Information Centre
Tourism Department, Govt. of Andhra Pradesh - 500 063.
Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation
Tourism House, Himayatnagar, Hyderabad - 500 063Andhra Pradesh, India- 500 028 Phone: +91-40-23262151,
APTDC Central Reservation offices
Tank Bund Road, Hyderabad - 500 063 Andhra Pradesh,India.
2nd Floor, Netaji Bhavan, Himayatnagar,
Hyderaba - 110 001 Phone: