Currently located at an island near Nagarjuna Sagar in Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh, India is the popular Buddhist site associated with the Buddhist scholar Nagarjuna. Hence it is known as Nagarjuna Konda. The word konda means hill in the Telugu language. Therefore, Nagarjunakonda means Nagarjuna hill.
However, through the archaeological findings, the scholars disagrees this point regarding the association with Nagarjuna. The 3rd-4th-century inscriptions stress that the site was known as Vijayapuri in the ancient period and the name Nagarjunakonda dates from the medieval period. The Ikshavaku inscriptions, which is associate their capital Vijayapuri with the Sriparvata hill, mentions it as Siriparvate Vijayapure.
Archaeological findings at Nagarjunakonda
Nagarjunakonda is the very important archaeological site which was unknown to the world till 1926 A.D. It was first known to the local school teacher named Suraparaju Venkataramaih. During his visit, he saw an ancient pillar at the site. He then reported his discovery to the Madras Presidency government. With the information, the Telugu language Assistant to the Archaeological Superintendent for Epigraphy of Madras, Shri Sarasvati, also visited the site. He recognized the site to be the potential archaeological site.
In the same year French archaeologist Gabriel Jouveau-Dubreuil and his team explored the site. During the period of 1927-1931, English archaeologists under A. H. Longhurst organized a systematic digging. The team excavated the ruins of several Buddhist stupas, Chaityas, ancient Buddha statues, monuments, and artifacts.
Another excavation at the site was done by T N Ramachandran in 1938. This excavation led in the discovery of some more monuments. Again during 1954-1960, the excavation led by R Subrahmanyam discovered a number of relics dating from the Early Stone Age to the 16th century.
Later due to the construction of irrigation dam across the nearby Krishna River, this archaeological site was submerged. Hence, several monuments were dug up and relocated to the top of Nagarjuna's Hill. The museum was also built on the Nagarjunakonda in 1966. Some of the sculptures were now preserved at other museums in Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Paris and New York.
Newly constructed site for the ruins of Nagarjunakonda
As the Dam was constructed with the purpose of irrigation, the original site experience problem of flooding. Therefore the whole archaeological remains were reconstructed, transferred and preserved at a museum on the island situated in the midst of the man-made Nagarjunasagar Lake. The site has a 14th-century fort, medieval temples and a museum constructed like a Buddhist vihara. The museum houses a collection of relics of Buddhist culture and art. The museum also houses a small tooth and an ear-ring believed to be that of Gautama Buddha. The main stupa of Nagarjunakonda named Mahachaitya is believed to contain the sacred relics of the Buddha. A partly ruined monolithic Buddha statue, constructed in the Sinhalese tradition, is the main attraction at the museum. It also houses historic finds in the form of tools from Paleolithic and Neolithic times, as well as friezes, coins, and jewelry.
As a tourism and pilgrimage site
Nagarjunakonda is the very special place for both Hindus and Buddhists. For Hindus, the site houses a Shiva temple that is one of the 12 sacred jyotirlingas. Hence, the Hindu pilgrims also visit this pilgrimage site along with the Buddhist Pilgrims. Apart from the pilgrimage site, this area is also known for panoramic views of the valley from a viewing scenario near the dam. The site consists of a natural waterfall, Ethipothala Falls which cascade down 22 m into a blue lagoon. This site is a breeding center for crocodiles. There are Srisailam wildlife sanctuary and the Nagarjunsagar-Srisailam Tiger Reserve in nearby places. Hence almost every person with diverse purpose visits Nagarjunakonda.
Note: FYI, we also manage huge collection of various period and regional Buddhist arts, Buddha statues. Please feel free to visit our online Buddha statues gallery to know more about the Buddha statues for sale.