Remnants of a Buddhist monastery, dating back to pre-Sathavahana (Mauryan) period exist at Vaikuntapuram in Guntur district and the place popularly known as Bhairavakonda will soon become a protected monument if the proposals of State Museums and Archaeology Assistant Director K. Chitti Babu are accepted.

After discovering several remnants at the site recently, he was preparing a proposal asking the State Government to declare the hillock a protected monument as per the Andhra Pradesh Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1960.

“There are indications that Vaikuntapuram village was once a flourishing pilgrimage and trading centre,” he told The Hindu.

He said that the hillock in Thulluru mandal situated about 40 k.m. away from here and 10 k.m. from Amaravathi was of historical significance with a Vaishnava cave temple dedicated to Lord Venkateswara.

“During our exploration, the team noticed a defaced Buddha statue in a sitting posture in Gyana Mudra. We also noticed several rock-beds probably meant for the monks to rest. These are the indications that a rock-cut cave of Buddhists existed,” Mr. Babu said.

He said that while entering from the southern side of the hillock, the team noticed pot shreds (pottery fragment), and inscriptions that the present cave temple was built during the Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu regime.

The mandapa was built later and the cave roof was plastered by using pebbles and lime mortar. There is epigraphical evidence too which is in Telugu and Kannada script, he explained.

Two caves, one closed and the other covered with sand with pottery in black and red, was found in front of them.

“On the eastern side, two water chambers, meant to save water, were unearthed. They were probably meant to store rainwater,” he added.

A mound, a grinding stone, roof tiles, stupa slabs, half-moon shaped stone (a symbol of Buddhism) and two cairn circles were found indicating the existence of a megalith.

“The identification of pebbles and hewn stones in a circular form was reason to believe that a megalith existed here. However, there is no fool-proof evidence,” Mr. Babu explained.

The area in Munjuluru village in Krishna district where Buddhist remnants were unearthed in 2011 was declared a protected monument by the State Government and efforts were on to appoint a guard and provide fencing, Mr. Babu said.

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