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Nagarjuna Conda: the excavated ruins of a Buddhist settlement date back to the second and third century BC.

Located on the river Krishna, Nagarjunakonda was the greatest centre of Buddhist learning, south of the Vindhyas, about 17 centuries ago. Earlier known as Vijayapuri, Nagarjunakonda was the venue of many a congregation of monks and scholars. The great Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna, is said to have founded the University here. The stupas there had marvellous sculptures, depiciting sceenes from the life of buddha.. The main stupa of Nagarjunakonda is called the Mahacheitya is believed to contain the sacred relies of the Buddha. Famous relics include a small tooth and an ear ring believed to be of the buddha.

The site was discovered in 1926. Subsequent excavations, particularly in the '50s and '60s, have unearthed the remains of stupas, viharas, chaityas and mandapams, as well as some outstanding examples of white marble carvings and sculptures depicting the life of the Buddha.

Nagarjuna Konda was, once a splendid city with stupas, chaityas, monasteries, and marvellous sculpture adorning them. It had a large amphitheatre with perfect acoustics, an altar for the sacrifice of horses, royal baths, quays and bathing ghats along the river, and a well planned drainage system. With the passage of time and the eclipse of Buddhism in India, the city found its way to the abandoned lot, and had almost faded into oblivion.

An "Ashwamedha" sacrifical altar of tools from Paleolithic and Neolithic times were also found here.

The great stupa at Nagarjunakonda belongs to the class of uncased stupas, its brickwork being plastered over and the stupa decorated by a large garland-ornament. The original stupa was renovated by the Ikshvaku princess Chamtisiri in the third century A.D., when ayaka-pillars of stone were erected. The outer railing, if any, was of wood, its uprights erected over a brick plinth. The stupa, 32.3 m in diameter, rose to a height of 18 m with a 4 m wide circumambulatory. The medhi itself rose to a height of 1.5 m and the ayaka-platforms were rectangular offsets measuring 6.7 by 1.5 m. In its construction the stupa shows a great advance: it had a circular central column, with eight radial walls meeting a peripheral circular wall, thus producing the appearance in plan of a cart-wheel with its hub, spokes and felly. There was a second concentric wall outside with further projections of the radial walls up to it, the two peripheral walls thus forming the bases of the anda and medhi respectively, while the inner cross-walls and the filling in between afforded support. Many of the other stupas at Nagarjunalonda also had the same plan of construction. Also, many of them were cased with sculptured stone slabs.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air : Airport at Vijayawada that is 65 km. Away or Hyderabad which is 150 Km away.
Rail : Nearest railway stations are at Guntur, 36 km. away and at Vijayawada, 82 km. away.
Road : Guntur is 35 km. away, Vijayawada is 82 km.away, Hyderabad is 350 km. away. Bus service is well organised from the pilgrimage spot. Taxis are available at Guntur and Vijayawada. Nagarjunasagar is at a distance of 150 km. from Hyderabad, 22 km. from Macherla, 180 km. from Vijayawada.
A regular bus service connects Macherla with Nagarjunasagar.

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