To invoke the Telugu pride and to bestow special identity, recognition to the traditions, culture and heritage Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Shri Chandrababu Naidu christened the new capital city as Amaravathi. India has long tradition of redeeming glory to the ancient history by naming major cities after the invaders or the rulers/erstwhile capitals of that region. Thus naming of the new green capital city after the illustrious old city falls in line with the same convention.
As you try soaking in the feeling of this new capital city soon En Route to become one of the most promising cities of India, take a look at 10 amazing facts about the Amaravathi, which denotes pride with rich heritage and nostalgia.
A sneak peek at the astounding cultural attributes of Amaravathi at this juncture can greatly elate the spirits of aspiring coastal Andhra people
1. Is also referred to as ‘Deepaladinne’ or Hill of Lamps
The tiny old heritage town of Amaravathi, 35 km north of Guntur, is referred to as deepaladinne or hill of lamps in local parlance. It is also popular by the name Amareswaram for the famous Amareswara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, built along the banks of swiftly flowing waters of river Krishna.
2. Was Ruled by the Best of the Best
Amaravathi has glorious history to its name. Recorded history indicates that it was ruled by the Mauryan Emperor Asoka from 272 BC to 235 BC. Its existence is antiquated and interestingly Stone Age tools like hand axes, cleaver, discoids and scrapers were recovered from this region. After the decline of Mauryans it was taken over by Satavahanas who chose Dharanikota or Dhanyakataka, a place very close of Amaravathi as their capital. Subsequently the city retained a venerable position under the Ikshavuku rulers, Pallava Kings, Eastern Chalukyas, Telugu Cholas, Kota Kings and Kakatiyas. It was part of Mughal Empire, Sultanate of Golconda and was ceded to France initially and then to English. It finally became part of Madras Presidency during the colonial period.
3. Was the Highest Seat of Cultural Learning
Amaravathi has been a high seat of cultural learning. Various forms of arts flourished in this region for six centuries. Religion, especially Buddhism had been source of inspiration for great building activity. Ancient Monuments like Stupas, Chaitras, Viharas and Sangharamas discovered around this region speaks volumes about the influence of the Buddhism.
4. The Main Centre of Buddhism in South India
Amaravathi gradually evolved into the South Indian Centre of Buddhism where a thoroughly indigenous school of sculpture grew. It began to earn a universal applause for the conception of delicate beauty of human form, wonderful imagination, sense of symmetry and subtle display of human emotions. The art form brandished stupendous technical skill and dexterity and successively entered an advanced stage of exquisite refinement.
5. Rise of Amaravathi School of Art
With unique art and themes based on Buddha’s life and Jataka Tales, Amaravathi School of Art began to make a special mark during 3rd century. The other two major art forms of those times were Gandhara art and Mathura art. The stupa in Amaravathi, a classical outcome of this marvellous art form was the grandest architectural masterpiece of South India. It was referred to as Mahachaitya in the Ancient inscriptions. Built during the regime of Emperor Asoka in 2nd century, it was extensively enlarged and embellished by the later Satavahana rulers. The imposing solid 50 mt diameter of dome of the stupa was mounted on a drum like platform of bricks, housing the relics of Buddha. Empanelled with lime stone and the Palnad marble, it is now kept in the jewelled casket in Amaravathi Museum.
6. Had Unique Buddhist Sculptures connecting to Rome
Buddhist sculptures of Amaravathi had a Graeco-Roman influence indicating close trade and diplomatic trade between South India and ancient Romans. Coincidentally even some ancient Roman coins were recovered from this place. In fact the long curls of Buddha trademark of Amaravathi Buddhist stupa reflect this Greek influence.
7. Buddhist Stupa and Artifacts were recovered by the British
Administrative British authorities during the colonial rule after authenticated examinations by renowned archaeologists carried out excavations of resulting in unearthing of these antique artefacts.
8. Was Patronised by Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu
Incidentally before the advent of British, parts of coastal Andhra were ruled by the famous Vasireddy Clan. The last ruler of the clan, Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu, a benevolent ruler, patronised art and literature, constructed several temples in the Krishna district and renovated the temple of Amareswara Swamy. He shifted his capital to Amaravathi from Chintapalli, the original seat of power. Legend says that upon the, treacherously beheaded 600 Chenchu tribes who were torturing innocent villagers by inviting them for a luncheon. Repentant after the killings, he spent rest of his life in Amareswara Swamy temple premises. The present structure thus, owes its existence to him.
9. Recovered Buddhist Relics Now in Various Museums of the World
For years, the invaluable Buddhist sculptures recovered after the excavations were not displayed and preserved in a basement in the British Museum. Some of the treasured relics of long Indian history are now housed in the recently refurbished Madras Musuem in the Amaravathi Gallery and a small fraction of them are preserved in British Museum, London and at the Archaeological site Museum at Amaravathi.
10. Was Declared at the UNESCO Heritage City
In 2014 the ancient city of Amaravathi, the pride and glory of the Telugu rulers, Satavahanas was declared as UNESCO heritage city. As the capital of Andhra Desam, the ciity witnessed pinnacles of sublime spiritual glory, triumph, decline and neglect in the annals of Indian history.
May the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh, imbibing the spirit of ever widening thought and action usher the citizens into an era of bountiful development, progress and prosperity.