1st Century BC Buddhist remains found on hill in Amaravati

May 18, 2016 12:00 am | Updated 05:49 am IST - VIJAYAWADA:

The Buddhist remains discovered from a hill top at Vaikunthapuram village in Amaravati region.

The Buddhist remains discovered from a hill top at Vaikunthapuram village in Amaravati region.

A clue given by residents of Vaikunthapuram, located in the capital Amaravati region, led veteran archaeologist E. Siva Nagi Reddy to Buddhist remains of 1st Century BC atop a hill in the village.

Based on information given by the villagers that a few brickbats and fragments of earthen pots were found atop the hill, Dr. Reddy, who is also CEO of the Cultural Centre of Vijayawada, embarked on a thorough exploration of the area.

Assisted by village residents Bhogineni Nageswara Rao, Subhakar Medasani and Chaitanya Ravela, he conducted a thorough search on the hill which yielded three mounds studded with brickbats and pottery in red colour. The mounds were formed on huge boulders on which a brick-built stupa was raised.

“The bricks used in construction of stupas and viharas measured 60x30x8 cm and 58x28x7 cm, invariably belonged to the Satavahana era (1st Century BC). A huge quantity of fragments of terracotta and brick tiles used to cover chaityas and viharas was also found,” explains Dr. Reddy.

Further excavations revealed that the Buddhist monks relied for drinking water mainly on two tanks spread in an extent of half an acre and two rock-cut cisterns.

Villagers informed that a few years ago, treasure-hunters dug up at the centre of the stupa and found a relic casket with a gold leaf, which was later handed over to the then Collector of Guntur district.

“The Buddhist remains like stupas, chaityas and viharas yielded on Vaikunthapuram hill show that Buddhism existence from 1st Century BC to the 5th Century AD, but later the region came under the influence of Saivism in the Vishnukundin era and under Vaishnavites between the 13th and 17th centuries AD. This is evident in the existence of two Venkateswara temples —one at the foot of the hill and another on the hill top,” said Dr. Reddy.

He said a 1{+s}{+t}Century BC rock-cut cave on the hill top was installed with the idol of Lord Venkateswara during the 17th century AD.

Villagers said Deepak Joe of Andhra Pradesh State Department of Archaeology had inspected the site some time back.

Dr. Reddy also stumbled upon two Siva lingas on the Krishna river bed. It appeared that the lingas surfaced recently due to receding of the river water. These Siva lingas, he said, portrayed stylistic ground art of 5th century AD (Vishnukundin era).

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