Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Amaravati (near Vijayawada),Andhra Pradesh

Imagine you are standing near the bus stand in Amaravati, a small town near Guntur in Andhra pradesh.Now,imagine that it is the year 639 AD.You decide to take a stroll in the streets of Amaravati.You see the countrymen of the satavahanas exchanging goods with coins which was a first in india.As you are strolling you come across Hiuen Tsang ,the famous chineese traveller wandering here among the many monasteries here.You see him gazing with amazement at the biggest stupa in India then.

That is what amaravati was at the height of its glory.1340 years have passed since then.The glory is gone.There aren't any buddhists in the area,only the stupa with its 3/4th volume gone lies here silently telling the few travellers the tales of a bygone era.To give it some company two museums have been setup.One is run by APTTDC and the other by ASI.The APTTDC museum is right across the bustand.It contains a lot of boards describing the local history and the history of other Buddhist places in AP.It is well maintained and photography is allowed.The ASI museum is a little ahead and is better than the APTTDC museum.It is divided into two galleries and there is a small replica of the original stupa.The galleries contain some really beautiful pieces of sculptures done in the amaravati school of art.The sculptures showcased here were actually used to adorn the stupa.There are also some coins and cosmetics worn by the women of that time.Some sculpture stand out from the rest like the life size sculpture of a bull,a relic casket and the wheel of truth.The model of the stupa gives a fair idea of how the actual stupa looked before the time took its toll on it.The actual mahastupa itself is a little disctance from this museum.It stands in the middle of a big park with neatly trimmed lawns and beautiful big trees.Though there is nothing abt the structure to get excited abt for the uninformed tourist,but if you think about the history behind it you will get its
significance.That the Dalai Lama came here to inaugrate the musuem and the park underlines its importance. Apart from me there was a family,which was sitting at one end of the park,and a youngster who was sleeping under a tree.And on the trees lining the footpath a number of pigeons were
livng.They were creating a ruckus with the sound they were making. So apart from these noises there was
no other sound.I stood at one place from where I could see the whole
stupa properly and took in the whole atmosphere,the pigeons
shouting,the crickets chirping and a few random shouts among the
villagers,and the still stupa of whose only the base, of height maybe about 2metres has survived.This fininshed my visit and i left Amaravati a happy person.

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