A tiny village on the outskirts of Prakasam district, Chandavaram plays host to a Buddhist Mahastupa. Next in importance only to Sanchi Stupa, Chandavaram is believed to have been built during the Satavahana regime. The sculptural panels suggest the site as a timely representation of the early stages of Amaravati School of Art dating to the period between the 2nd century B.C and 2nd century A.D.
The remains of Buddhist relics, sculptures are widespread over a hill, Singarakonda, which is situated on the right bank of the Gundlakamma river, hardly, four kilometres away from Chandavaram.
The discovery of the site in the Darsi mandal of the district was a fruit of the tireless efforts put in by the eminent archeologist Dr. Veluri Venkata Krishna Sastry.
Today, a majority of the stupa happens to be intact, upto the harmika level. (small platform with a railing located at the very top of a stupa)
- Resembling the Dharajaka Stupa at Taxila from many dimensions, the limestone panels on the dome and drum sections of the Mahastupa throw adequate glimpses of the Buddhapada worship, Stupas, Bodhi trees while also weaving narratives in the form of Jataka tales and other stories, say, that of the Elephant Nalagiri.
- A museum present at Chandavaram also comprises significant sculptures, relics including coins , black and red ware and inscriptions in the Brahmi script. One of those rare sites to have witnessed both the Theravada and Mahayana phases of Buddhism wheras some of the coins recovered here, expectedly, date to the times of the Satavahanas. Other unique features of the site include :
- Vihara complex (enjoyment) built on three different terraces
- Votive stupas
- Maha Chaitya with a dome 1.6 m in height and a drum with 60 cm width
- The Buddha statue erected here was known to be tallest standing monolith of height, 72 feet, as part of the Buddha Poornima Project proposed in 1985. Weighing nearly 450 tonnes and painstakingly carved by 200 sculptors for about two years, it was later transported to Hyderabad in 1988. In totality, the site has been excavated about four times since its discovery which helped trace 15 regular-sized stupas and smaller ones, nearing a hundred of them.
- Some experts assert that, with the decline of Buddhism, the destroyed sections at the site including sculptures, stones and soil may have been used for the construction of the nearby Mahabaleswar temple.
How to Reach Chandavaram
Nearest Railway Station : Donakonda (12 kms from the Guntur-Guntakal section)
Landmark to get down : Vellampalli (10 kms away from Tripurantakam towards Kurnool)