We spent the whole day visiting Amaravati and Undavalli Caves. We drove from Guntur to Amaravati in a taxi as our car needed some repairs at Guntur. On the way we interviewed a group of chilli farmers who gave us many insights into their work and also the future that they envisaged for themselves and their community – including wanting jobs in manufacturing!
Destination: Amravati, Undavalli, and back to Guntur
Distance Covered: 182 kms
States Covered: Andhra Pradesh
Districts Covered: Guntur, Krishna
Shiva Temple, at Ambareshwar; Amravati Buddhist Museum; Amravati Stupa; Undavalli Caves; and Vishnu Temple.
Amravati is quiet a familiar name for the Buddhists in India, It is a town located on the banks of the Krishna in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. It was the capital of the Satavahanas, the first great dynasty of the Andhra kings who ruled between 2nd century B.C to the 3rd century A.D. At that point of time, it was known as Dhanyakataka. Amravati was also once amongst the four major learning centres in India which attracted a large number of students from all over the world. It gave impetus to the development of art, architecture, trade and was instrumental in spreading Buddhism to the east coast.
The Amareswara Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and houses a 15 ft high white marble Shiva Lingam. On the four sides of the temple are huge gopurams in a typically Dravidian temple architectural style. The walls of the temple have a number of inscriptions that tell us about the various kings who held power in the area.
The Amaravati Stupa, also known as the Mahachaitya Stupa, the Amravati Stupa happens to be the largest stupa in the country. Today, only remains of the stupa can be seen.
The Amravati Museum is a small but interesting museum in Amravati that displays exhibits that range between 3rd century BC to 12th century AD. Some of the finest exhibits include statues of the Buddha with lotus symbols on his feet curled hair and long ear lobes. There are also limestone sculptures of goddess Tara and Bodhisattva Padmapani in the museum.
The Undavalli Caves are an example of monolithic Indian rock-cut architecture and one of the finest testimonials to ancient vishwakarma sthapathis that are located in the village of Undavalli near the southern bank of the Krishna River. These caves were carved out of solid sandstone on a hillside in the 4th to 5th centuries AD.
There are several caves and the best known largest one has four stories with a huge recreated statue of Vishnu in a reclining posture, sculpted from a single block of granite inside the second floor. The main cave is one of the earliest examples of Gupta architecture, primarily primitive rock-cut monastery cells carved into the sandstone hills. The site served as the Bhikkhu monastic complex during ancient period. The walls of the caves display sculptures carved by skilled craftsmen. The caves are associated with the Jain kings of 420 to 620 A.D.