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 Buddhist Heritage Sites in AP


Nagarjunakonda Amaravati
Chandavaram Guntupalli
Sankaram Salihundam
Buddhist Art & Culture

Buddhist Heritage Sites in APWant 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.


NagarjunakondaSeventeen 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 into history.


AmaravatiAn 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 Lamps'.

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 stories.


ChandavaramThis 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 the hilltop.


GuntupalliThis 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 arama.


SankaramDiscover 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 Buddhism.


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 Jataka stories.

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. Phone: +91-40-23450444

Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation Tourism House, Himayatnagar, Hyderabad - 500 063Andhra Pradesh, India- 500 028 Phone: +91-40-23262151, +91-40-23262152

APTDC Central Reservation offices Tank Bund Road, Hyderabad - 500 063 Andhra Pradesh,India.

India Tourism 2nd Floor, Netaji Bhavan, Himayatnagar, Hyderaba - 110 001 Phone: +91-40-23261360,+91-40-23261363



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