Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh

Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh

Infobox Indian Jurisdiction
native_name = Amaravati
type = town
latd = 16.58 | longd = 80.36
locator_position = right
state_name = Andhra Pradesh
district = Guntur
leader_title =
leader_name =
altitude = 8
population_as_of =
population_total =
population_density =
area_magnitude= sq. km
area_total =
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unlocode =
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Amaravati is a small town situated on the banks of the River Krishna in the Guntur District (of which it is a mandal) of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is an excavation site of an ancient Buddhist Stupa. It was also the capital of Satavahanas, the first great Andhra kings who ruled from the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd century CE, after the downfall of Maurya empire.


The Skanda Purana gives a picture of the place and the Siva temple located here. [ Skanda Purana In: Puranic Encyclopedia, 1975, Vettam Mani, Motilal Banarsidas, New Delhi] Sage Narada explains to Sounaka and other saints that Amareswara is situated in Amareswaram on the bank of river Krishna, and is on the southeastern side of the Srisailam temple. He also tells that Amareswaram is important because of three sacred things: the Krishna river, a Kshetra with a Sthala mahatmyam (land that has special powers) and the Mahalinga Murthy (God Siva in Linga form). When Devas were defeated by the demon Taraka, they came to reside in this Dhanyakataka and hence it is called Amaravati, the abode of the Amaras (means Gods).


According to Vajrayana traditional sources the Buddha preached at Dharanikota/Dhanyakatakam and conducted Kalachakra ceremony, which would take the antiquity of Amaravati back to 500 BCE. [Buddha's Preaching of the Kalachakra Tantra at the Stupa of Dhanyakataka, H. Hoffman, in: German Scholars on India, Vol. I, 1973, PP. 136-140, Varanasi ] . Taranatha, the Buddhist monk writes: "On the full moon of the month Caitra in the year following his enlightenment, at the great stupa of Dhanyakataka, Buddha emanated the mandala of "The Glorious Lunar Mansions" (Kalachakra). [Taranatha;] This shows that Dhanyakatakam (Amaravati) was a very important place a the time of composition of this tantra. The recorded history of Amaravati and nearby Dharanikota is from 2nd century BCE. [The History of Andhras, Durga Prasad ( ] It was the capital of Andhra Satavahanas who ruled from 2nd century BCE to 3rd century CE. After the decline of Satavahanas, Ikshvakus and later Pallava kings ruled Krishna river valley. Subsequently, Eastern Chalukyas and Telugu Cholas held sway over the region. Kota kings were in control of Amaravati during the medieval times. Kota kings were subdued by Kakatiyas in 11th century CE and Amaravati became part of the unified Telugu empire.

The stupa

The town was the site of a great Buddhist stupa originally built during the reign of emperor Ashoka. It was completed in 200 CE and is decorated with carved panels which tell the story of Buddha's life. The region between Krishna and Godavari rivers was an important place for Buddhism from the 2nd century BCE and some ancient sculpture in low relief has been found here. During the Satavahana period (2nd century BCE-3rd century CE), Dharanikota near Amaravati was chosen as the capital. The stupa was then adorned with limestone reliefs and free standing Buddha figures. During the period of the decline of Buddhism, this stupa was also neglected and it was buried under rubble. There is a 14th century inscription in Sri Lanka which mentions repairs made to the stupa and after that it was forgotten.

Around the year 1796 C.E., Colonel Colin Mackenzie, who visited the site twice, prepared drawings and sketches of the relics in the area. Eventually, several European scholars including Sir Walter Smith, Robert Sewell, James Burgess and Alexander Rea excavated the site and unearthed many sculptures that once adorned the stupa. Many bas-relief medallions and paneled friezes decorated the Amaravati stupa. [Amaravati: Buddhist sculpture from the Great Stupa, R. Knox, 1992, The British Museum Press, London ] Similar to Sanchi Stupa, the stupa was decorated with carvings of life and teachings of Buddha and events of Jataka Stories, e.g. taming of a rogue elephant by Buddha. The 95 ft tall stupa was made of brick with a circular dome and platforms protruding in four cardinal directions. Recent excavations have revealed remains of an Ashokan pillar, the first such example of Mauryan art to be found in South India.

This stupa is related to the Vajrayana teachings of Kalachakra, still practiced today in Tibetan Buddhism. According to the Kalachakra tantra texts, Suchandra, the King of Shambhala and many of his retinue received the initiation into this practice by the historical Buddha. [Kilty,G "Ornament of Stainless Light", Wisdom 2004, ISBN 0-86171-452-0] For this reason, the Dalai Lama of Tibet conducted a Kalachakra initiation at this location in 2006.

Art historians regard the Amaravati art as one of the three major styles or schools of ancient Indian art, the other two being the Gandhara style and the Mathura style. Some of the Buddhist sculptures of Amaravati betray a Greco-Roman influence that was the direct result of the close trade and diplomatic contacts between South India and the ancient Romans. Indeed, Amaravati has itself yielded a few Roman coins. The Government Museum at Egmore (Madras Museum) and British Museum, London host the "Amaravati Gallery". [Sculptures from Amaravati in the British Museum, D. Barrett, 1954, Trustees of the British Museum, London ] .

Chinese traveller and Buddhist monk Hiuen Tsang (Xuanzang) visited Amaravati in 640 C.E., stayed for sometime and studied 'Abhidhammapitakam'. He observed that there were many Viharas and some of them were deserted, which points out that Hinduism was gaining ground at that time.

Amaravati School

and other South-Asian countries.

Religious ideology was a potent force providing cohesion and identity to trading communities and it was perhaps through these channels that the early Buddhist/ Brahmanical images found their way into South-East Asia and Sri Lanka. [Buddhist Sculptures of Sri Lanka, U. Von Schroeder, 1990, Hongkong ] At Sempaga in Celebes, a bronze image of Buddha of the Amaravati School was found. The earliest sculptures from Dong-Duong. Dong Tuk (Siam), exhibit Amaravati style. A bronze Buddha from South Djember and Sikendeng on the west coast of Celebes, and the colossal statue at Bukit are all in characteristic Amaravati style. It is quite likely that these image were brought from Andhra centers by the colonists. The transport of the large stone Buddha of Palembang must have been more difficult. It is the oldest relic from Amaravati in the archipelago. Sea route voyages connected Indian ports of the South such as Masulipatnam, Ghantasala etc., with Indonesia. Amaravati school also had a great influence over other South Indian sculpture.

hiva Temple

The Amareswara (Shiva) temple walls have lot of inscriptions that give information about the kings who ruled over the area. The present holy shrine of Amaralingeswara (Lord Shiva) temple is associated with the reign of Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu who ruled the region before the advent of the British rule (See Amararama). People around Amaravati widely believe that he temple was constructed to install peace after a massacre of 1000 violent tribesman plotting against the king in a sinister carnival organized to capture them. Later Venkatadri Nayudu built a temple in the same spot upon guidance from scholars of his court. He was well-known for his benevolence , munificience and construction of a large number of temples and education centers in the Krishna river delta. ["Sri Raja Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu", 1973, K. Lakshminarayana, Ponnuru ( ]


The city is located at coord|16|34|N|80|22|E [ [ Maps, Weather, and Airports for Amaravati, India ] ] on the south bank of Krishna river.


Amaravati is located 35 km northwest of Guntur. It is 46 km south west of Vijayawada.It is reachable by road or steam boat on the river. Vijayawada is a main Junction in the Madras Delhi rail line and also nearest airport to Amarvati.


The people mostly speak Telugu. The common traditional clothing for women is a Saree and for men a Dhovathi or a Lungi. The town was given a hagiographic portrayal in the famous short story series Amaravati Kathalu by
Satyam Sankaramanchi. The stories describe the contemporary culture of local people during the reign of Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu and also post-independent times.

The town is a centre of piligrimage to both Buddhists and Hindus. Amaravati is also famous for the temple dedicated to the god Shiva. The main Hindu festivals celebrated are Mahashivaratri and the Navaratri. The 30th Kalachakra festival, a popular buddhist ritual was held at Amaravati in the first week of January 2006.


Villages in Amaravati mandal are Munugodu, Turagavaripalem, Amaravati, Attalur, Jupudi, Chavupadu, Didugu, Lingapuram, MuttayaPalem, Malladi, Mandepudi, Pondugula, Dharanikota, Narakullapadu, Vykuntapuram, Peddamadduru, Endroyi, Unguturu Nemalikallu Karalapudi, lemalle,Enikapadu.etc.


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