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Buddhist Sites in Andhra Pradesh
For more than a millennium, Buddhism exercised profound influence on the lives of the people of the ancient Andhra desa. The language and literature, art and architecture, social norms and religious practices of that time were shaped by the enlightening stimulus of this great religion. The magnificent remains of many Buddhist Viharas and stupas in Andhra Pradesh give us a glorious glimpse of the ancient times when Buddhism flourished in the State. There are about 144 sites spread all over the state which have withstood the ravages of time. It is from here that Buddhism spread to the far east including China, Japan and Srilanka. Find peace and tranquility as you make the circuit of the Buddhist sites..
Hyderabad, the capital city of Andhra Pradesh, Vijayawada, the busy business hub, and Visakhapatnam the thriving port city, form the focal points from where the Buddhist sites can be visited in comfort. Travel and be blessed... the Buddhist trail beckons...
  Hyderabad Circuit
  Nagarjunakonda: 150 kms from Hyderabad
Anupu: 4 kms from Nagarjunasagar
Dhulikata: 200 kms from Hyderabad
Nelakondapally: 150 kms from Hyderabad
  How to reach & Where to stay
• The Capital city has something to offer for all tastes. An extensive choice of luxury and budget hotels is available to cater to a wide cross section of needs.
• A.P. Tourism organizes conducted tours to and fro and comfortable accommodation is available at the Tourist Guest Houses at Nagarjuna Sagar and Hyderabad.
• The APSRTC plies frequent bus services from Hyderabad to all identified Buddhist sites.
  Statue of Buddha
An enjoyable boat ride takes you to the towering 18m high, 350 ton monolith statue of the Buddha, poised in serene majesty mid-lake, on Hussain Sagar. This gigantic semblance of the enlightened one, presiding in supreme bliss on Hyderabad's rock of Gibraltar, flags you off in the right spirit to explore the destinations of the Buddhist circuit.
Nagarjunakonda, known as Sriparvata in ancient times, was located in the Guntur district. Also called Vijaypuri, it was the capital city of the Ikshavakus. A prominent center of learning, Sriparvata rose to greatest glory during the Ikshavaku period in the 3rd Century A.D. Several monasteries were excavated here, particularly the Maha Chaitya, the bathing ghat and the amphitheater. While constructing the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, the ruins of this ancient Buddhist University and chaityas were reconstructed brick by brick on the top of a hill which forms the island Nagarjunakonda and at Anupu. A stunning monolithic statue of the Buddha standing in the eternal posture of sublime peace, is the chief attraction in the museum.
Located a stone's throw away from the mammoth Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, Anupu is true testimony of faith, with its perfect reconstruction of a Buddhist excavation brick by brick, with diligent devotion. A brilliant archaeological reconstruction, in the exact semblance of the 3rd century Buddhist amphitheater, the acoustic wonders of the fine structure here, with its seating capacity of 1000 spectators, takes your imagination fleeting back to the ancient Buddhist realms.
Situated in Karimnagar District, 200 kms from Hyderabad, excavations here have revealed a Buddhist stupa and vihara built on a prominent mound at the junction of 2 perennial rivulets. The enlarged Garbha of the stupa was bedecked with more than 50 carved slabs, most of them found intact. One of the slabs, depicts the Muchilinda Naga- a five headed cobra protecting the Lord Buddha, symbolically represented by his feet, exquisitely delineated. At the top of the Naga, over the embossed frame is an inscribed label in early brahmi script, datable to 175 BC. Associated with the structures, punch marked Satavahana and Roman coins, ivory combs, seals, silver portrait coin, beads and bangles, and terra-cotta figurines were recovered.
180 km. from Hyderabad, this is another recently discovered Buddhist site. Excavations here have unearthed a stupa built of brick and about nine Buddhist idols among other articles of historical importance. Subsequent excavations revealed a unique spoked stupa. Besides, other remains are votive stupas in limestone and a pedestal in black basalt, decorated with triratna symbols and lotus motifs.
  Vijayawada Circuit
  (275 kms from Hyderabad)
Amaravathi: 65 kms from Vijayawada
Chandavaram: 150 kms from Vijayawada
Guntupalli: 120 kms from Vijayawada
Adurru: 250 kms from Vijayawada & 50 kms from Rajahmundry
Bhattiprolu: 50 kms from Vijayawada
Ghantasala: 75 kms from Vijayawada
  How to reach & Where to stay
• Accommodation to suit different budgets and requirement is easily available. There are 3-star Hotels, Economy Hotels and A.P. Tourism Guest Houses.
• The APSRTC provides bus facilities to all these sites.
Set out on the Buddhist quest and find the supreme satisfaction you have been searching for. Of all the' Buddhist sites in Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati is by far, the most magnificent and the most widely known. Formerly known as Dhanyakataka, it is located on the right bank of River Krishna, about 28 kms from Vijayawada. The stupa at Dhanyakataka was several times enlarged and embellished over the centuries. This mighty monument, once measuring 30 mts in height, covered with marble sculptures painted in colours, is perhaps the finest memorial of Buddhism in the world. It is also known as "dipaladinne' - Mound of lamps. It might have been the largest marble surfaced dome in the world. It was considered as the most sacred pilgrim center of the Buddhists in India.
It is another important Buddhist site in Prakasham district. Famed for its double terraced Stupa, the only other one of its kind is found in Sanchi. It is probably I the biggest in the whole of South India in elevation, and can be compared with Dharmarajaka Stupa at Taxila. Excavations here revealed more than 24 beautifully carved limestone panels that once decorated the dome of the stupa. A Sangharama and several minor stupas are situated nearby. By all means, a significant Buddhist destination.
The rugged beauty of the serene surroundings and unparalleled natural allure of the rock- caves, hewn in an enchanting horse shoe shaped ravine, sets Guntupalli apart, as the most beautiful of the Buddhist sites in the entire South India. Located 120 km away from Vijayawada, on a hillock, the site holds some of the most unique rock cut Buddhist shrines, Chaityas, Stupas and Viharas. The site is surrounded by serene natural beauty and is reminiscent of Lomasarishi and Sudhama caves near Buddha Gaya. Dignaga, the great Buddhist logician, is believed to have lived in this arama (place of rest).
Located on the right Bank of River Krishna, in Guntur District, about 25 km from Repalle, and 50 km from Vijayawada, Bhattiprolu known as Prathipalapura in ancient times is perhaps the site with the oldest known stupa. This pre-Mauryan stupa enshrined a Buddhist relic. King Kubiraka, the merchants and elite of this land built a Maha Chaitya which measured 40 mts.in diameter, with an impressive drum covered with panels, on which the events in the Lord's life were sculpted. Inscribed stone relic caskets, crystal caskets,relics of the Lord Buddha and jewels were excavated here.
Dating back to the 3rd C. AD this site lies in the Divi Taluk of Krishna District, 21 kms west of Machilipatnam and 75 km from Vijayawada. Herein remains an important Buddhist stupa and sculptural slabs brought to light in 1919-20. The unique cubic centerpiece of solid bricks, which adorns the stupa excavated here, is a rare discovery…Interesting inscriptions of the 12 constellations of the zodiac are another rare attraction at this site.
  Visakhapatnam Circuit
  Sankaram: 40 kms from Visakhapatnam
Bavikonda: 16 kms from Visakhapatnam
Salihundam: 116 kms from Visakhapatnam
  How to reach & Where to stay
• Visakhapatnam-Asia's fastest growing city is well linked by rail, road and air to all parts of the country. Just a 60 minute flight away from the capital city of Hyderabad.
• Buddhist sites around Visakhapatnam are accessible by road. Means of transport available include private taxis and buses of the APSRTC.
• Visakhapatnam offers tourists the very best facilities, with five star hotels and excellent tourist accommodation to suit every budget. A.P.Tourism too hosts the tourists in Tourism Guest Houses-Haritha Beach Resort-Rishikonda; Yatri Nivas; Yatri Nivas-Araku Valley; Mayuri Guest House-Araku Valley.
Situated 41 kms from Visakhapatnam and 3 kms from Anakapally, numerous monolithic,votive stupas, rock cut caves and buildings were discovered belonging to the first century AD. Similarly, at Lingalametta, nearby, innumerable rock cut monolithic stupas in rows are spread all over the hill which the people thought to be Saivite lingas. A Mahastupa nearby yielded a relic casket. Three Chaitya Halls and a number of votive platforms and stupas and also other secular structures were unearthed.
The archeologists found a rich harvest of the most ancient sites in North Andhra, which was part of ancient Kalinga. On a hillock called Bavikonda, an extensive Buddhist settlement was discovered, comprising Maha chaitya enshrining Buddha Dhatu,Viharas and several stupas. The vihara consists of three arms in the layout of a Trisala, a big congregation hall, where lectures and debates must have been held. Like others, these Maha stupas also had four entrances at cardinal directions.
This little village is situated on the south bank of the river Vamsadhara in Srikakulam district. It is 5 kms from an old sea port town of Kalingapatnam. Here a Mahastupa, Votive stupas, Platforms and Viharas are located on a hillock. In this site, we find distinct evidence of the presence of Vajrayana cult. From here, Buddhism spread to Sumatra and other far-eastern countries. This site because of its potentialities, periodical scientific digs yielded besides inscribed stones, a terracotta relic casket, inscribed conches, stone and crystal relic caskets, coins and seals. The inscriptions range in date from 2nd to 6th Century A.D.Still, excavations have to be made to bring to light, the ancient Dantapura, presently known as Dantavakrunikota, a nearby site.
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