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Thotlakonda & Bavikonda

 

Visakhapatnam is majorly famed for its endless number of beaches and bustling port. But, not many know that the place once had a considerable Buddhist influence, and still holds the legacy of Buddhism. It is surrounded by few ancient Buddhist complexes. Thotlakonda and Bavikonda are two among the excavated Buddhist centres located near the city. Tourists come from far and wide to explore the various structures here including maha stupas, votive stupas, bhojanasalas (dining halls), pakasalas (Kitchen), congregation halls, chaitya grihas, viharas and well-carved stone pathways.

Thotlakonda
Thotlakonda in Telugu means ‘the hill in the shape of Eagle’s head’. The site is dotted with ancient Buddhist structures such as stupas, chaityagrihas, pillared congregation halls, viharas with cells, bhandagaras (storerooms), bhojanshala, stone pathways and huge water reservoirs. The entrance gate to this hill is built in the Buddhist style.
Upon reaching the hilltop, you will come across the ruins of the ancient Buddhist monastery. You can visit the meditation halls within the complex which were designed in a way to avoid outside disturbances. Archaeological exploration made at the site revealed several articles including different kinds of pottery, beads, tiles, bangle pieces, stucco, molded bricks, coins, inscriptions, iron objects and sculptural remains.

Bavikonda
Bavikonda in Telugu means ‘a hill of wells’. The hilltop is one of the oldest Buddhist sites of Asia, and was once a Buddhist monastery. The site is well famed for its giant circular tanks and wells which were once used for water storage and for dyeing the robes of monks. The site flourished from around 3rd century BC to 3rd century AD. The place holds prime importance because of a relic vessel found with its biggest stupa, the Mahachaitya. The vessel contained a piece of bone, which is believed to be from Buddha himself. According to the historic records, Bavikonda was once a known learning centre of Hinayana Buddhism, which flourished between 3rd century BC and 3rd century AD.



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