Here, through this post, we make some time to soak into the Buddhist spell of Nagarjunakonda, one of the most significant historical and aesthetic riches that Guntur can well and truly brag about.
Into the present and the past that shaped it
- Nagarjunakonda, the hill of Nagarjuna in the literal sense, in the Macherla Mandal of Guntur is a 3rd-century A.D marvel, that attained bulk of its prominence as a Buddhist teaching center during the rule of the Ikshvaku Dynasty. An isolated valley encompassed by the Nallamala ranges, it was also known as Vijayapuri and Sriparvata, a good 1700 years ago.
- The site was named after Acharya Nagarjuna, prominent as the second Buddha, who had spent the major part of his life spreading the Mahayana phase of Buddhism that he had also founded.
- The site’s existence is a result of the submerging of the valley owing to the construction of the Nagarjunsagar Dam. The island, formed in the center of the reservoir came to be known as the present Nagarjunakonda.
Preserving The Riches
- Prior to the submergence, a series of excavations threw light on several undiscovered monasteries, of which a Maha Chaitya, a bathing ghat and an amphitheater earned much interest from historians and general public alike. While some of them still continue to be on the island, the other remains are presently housed at Anupu.
Digging it deep into the Musuem
- In a bid to preserve the relics and artifacts extracted during the excavations, a Buddhist Museum was built on the island, whose most significant treasure happens to be the partially ruined monolithic statue of Buddha, that epitomizes a state of true bliss and compassion. The foundation stone for the same was laid by Humayun Kabir, former Minister for Scientific Research and Cultural Affairs on 31 January,1959.
More into the Historical Showcase
- A section of the Museum presents the transformation of a human from the Stone Age-era to the Megalithic period, making use of excavated artifacts and adequate illustrations.
- A set of architectural units including decorated drum slabs, dome slabs, cornice beams, earthen ware and Brahmanical sculptures showcase various significant phases in the life of Buddha, right from his birth to Mahaparinirvana. A series of stories surrounding his previous births (Jatakas) including Sasa-jataka, Champeya-jataka, Sibi-jataka and Mandhathu-jataka also form the subjects of the carvings.
- A gallery in the musuem presents specimens of the epigraphs, sculptures, where the the inscriptions written on the pillars date back to the Brahmi script of the 3rd-4th century AD. The languages used were Prakrit on a major note, followed by Sanskrit.
- The Mahachaitya here possesses a wheel-pattern with a hub and eight spokes, including a drum of 120 feet-diameter and a processional path of width, 13 feet. The exterior in a concentric set of five stupa-shaped caskets hides the bone relics of the Buddha. Besides, a slab was found here comprising Buddha’s footprints.
How to Reach Nagarjunakonda
Nearest Airport : Hyderabad (150kms)
Bus Stations : Guntur, Hyderabad and Rajahmundhry (until Nagarjunasagar) followed by a 45-minute ferry ride to Nagarjunakonda
Nearest Railway Station : Macherla (29kms)