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NAGARJUNAKONDA

NAGARJUNAKONDA

NAGARJUNAKONDA or -Nagarjuna Hill”, on the banks of the Krishna river, was named after Nagarjuna Acharya, the 2nd-century Buddhist theologian and founder of an influential school of philosophy. Once a sophisticated Buddhist settlement, with large monasteries and stupa , wide roads and public baths, it was established in the 3rd and 4th centuries, when the area flourished under the rule of the powerful Ikshvaku kings.

NAGARJUNAKONDA or -Nagarjuna Hill”, on the banks of the Krishna river, was named after Nagarjuna Acharya, the 2nd-century Buddhist theologian and founder of an influential school of philosophy. Once a sophisticated Buddhist settlement, with large monasteries and stupa , wide roads and public baths, it was established in the 3rd and 4th centuries, when the area flourished under the rule of the powerful Ikshvaku kings.

In the early 1960s, when the huge Nagarjuna Sagar Dam was being constructed across the Krishna, a number of these rediscovered ancient Buddhist settlements were threatened with submersion. However, the Archaeological Survey of India salvaged and reconstructed many of them, brick by brick, on top of the hill where the citadel once used to stand.

Today, most of the hill, and the secluded valley in which theese settlements once stood, have been settlements by the merged waters of the Nagarjuna Sagar lake. Only the top of the hill, where the rescued remains have like been an reassembled, juts out The island is accessible by launches, which leave regularly from the small villag of Vijayapiiri , on the banks of tthhe lake.

On the island, the path from the jetty leads first to the Simhara Vgihara 4. This comprises a stupa built on a high platform with a pair of chaitya gribas (prayer halls) adjoining it. While one of the chatiya, gribas houses a second stupa, the other enshrines monumental sculp_ tore of the Standing Buddha. The Bodhislin cbaitya, contained within a semicircular-ended brick structure.To its west -ended is t brick structure. To chairya stupas which , with a diameter of 27.5 m (90 ft), was one of the largest at Nagarjunakonda. Its internal nibble walls radiate outwards like the spokes of a wheel, and are filled with earth. Just ahead of it is the Swastika haitya , named after the Indian swastika emblem formed by its rubble walls.

Near the citadel walls is a stone megalith, some 2,000 years old. It conceals a simple burial chamber that once contained four skulls. To its east is the Archaeological Museum, which houses superb Buddhist sculptures from the ruins of Nagarjunakonda. They include limestone reliefs and panels carved with seated Buddhas, flying celestial beings and miniature replicas of srupas. Friezes from the railings which surrounded the stupas depict scenes from the Buddha’s life. Among the freestanding sculptures are dignified Buddha figures dressed in elegant robes.

Archaeological Museum

ENVIRONS: More structures from the Ikshvaku period are reassembled at a site 15 km (9 miles) south of Vijayapuri. These include a Stadium, with tiered galleries around a central court, possibly used for musical and theatrical performances and sporting events. The adjacent Monastic Complex has shrines and chaitya grihas as well as a refectory, store and baths.

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