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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

BUDDHA Temples in India

Amaravathi Temple

On the southern bank of the River Krishna in Guntur district lies the modern day town of Amaravati. The capital of the later Satavahanas, it was known as Dhanyakataka and was an important junction with trade routes branching out in all directions. And along these trade routes were spread Buddhism and Buddhist influence. Thus one has a string of Buddhist sites today all along the coast, northwards and southwards from Amaravati. The vibrant ports in the east were utilised to launch Buddhism overseas Burma and Sri Lanka were brought into the Buddhist fold. Today Amaravati contains a huge stupa covered with marble sculpture. The imposing structure is 38 metres high and has a number of carvings portraying the life of Buddha. Amaravati was considered the most sacred pilgrim centre of Buddhists in India. The town is just 60 kms from Vijayawada and about 35 kms from the district headquarters city of Guntur. Though there is accommodation available at Amaravati in the form of a tourist complex and government traveller's bungalows, tourists prefer hotel accommodation at Vijayawada or Guntur.

Anupa Temple

While the Nagarjunasagar dam was being constructed, excavations revealed ruins of an ancient Buddhist university. As the reservoir would submerge the ruins, the entire site was shifted and reconstructed 4 kms away at Anupu near Nagarjunasagar.

Bavikonda Temple

Most parts of North Coastal Andhra Pradesh were part of the ancient Kalinga kingdom. At Bavikonda near Visakhapatnam, an extensive Buddhist settlement was unearthed. The name Bavikonda means hill of the wells. This would be because the settlement has its own drinking water wells. There are several stupas and a big congregation hall. The site is approachable from the port city of Visakhapatnam.

Battiprolu Temple

Located near the Krishna River of Guntur district, Bhattiprolu has what is considered to be the most ancient stupa. The ancient name of this settlement was Prathipalapura and the pre-Mauryan Stupa contained a Buddhist relic. The crystal casket in which the relic was secured is at present worshipped at the Mahabodhi Society temple at Kolkata. The Maha Chaitya built to enshrine the relic at Prathipalapura is over 40 metres in diameter. Bhattiprolu is about 40 kms from Guntur and can be reached by road or even rail on the Repalle line. State transport buses ply frequently from Guntur.

Chandavaram Temple

In the neighbouring Prakasam district lies Chandavaram, on the bank of the Gundlakamma Rivulet. The stupa here is unique and in that it is double-terraced and located atop of a hillock and could be considered the highest in elevation, next comes the Dharmarajak stupa at Taxila. The village is about 150 km from Vijayawada and approachable by road.

Thotlakonda Temple

In the same district of Visakhapatnam, 16 kms along the picturesque Vizag-Bhimili road lies Thotlakonda, where a number of stupas, viharas and chaityas belonging to the Hinayana school were found. A unique discovery providing evidence of maritime trade during that period was Satavahana coins bearing on the obverse of a ship with two masts, anchored to the shore. The site can be approached via the road running along the coastline between Visakhapatnam city and Bheemunipatnam (Bhimili), the second oldest municipality in the country.

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