Chandavaram Buddhist site

Chandavaram Buddhist site is an ancient Buddhist site in Chandavaram village in Prakasam district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Situated on the bank of Gundlakamma River, the site is 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) northwest of Donakonda railway station. The Chandavaram Buddhist site was built between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE during the Satavahana dynasty and was discovered by Dr. Veluri Venkata Krishna Sastry in 1964.

The first of its kind in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the Chandavaram Buddhist site was constructed between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE. It was an active center for Buddhist religious activities, and was also inhabited at the time. The age of the site was determined by the carbon dating of artifacts discovered during excavation. The sculptural panels in the site are of the Amaravati school which also suggests that the site was built between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE. The Chandavaram Buddhist site was used as a resting place by Buddhist monks traveling from Kashi to Kanchi. Discovered in 1964, the site was constructed during the Satavahana dynasty. Ayaka pillars are absent from the site, indicating that the Hinayana form of Buddhism was prevalent in Chandavaram. The site houses a double terraced MahaStupa on a hilltop which is next in importance only to Sanchi Stupa. The hill on which the MahaStupa is located is called Singarakonda.

Construction and structure
Constructed during the Satavahana dynasty, the Chandavaram Buddhist site houses a double terraced MahaStupa built on an elevated platform situated on a hilltop. The MahaStupa exhibits the characteristics of stupas built under the Hinayana form of Buddhism. The main dome (MahaStupa) is 120 feet (37 m) in circumference and 30 feet (9.1 m) high. It has carved panels that portray the Dharmachakra (the wheel of Dharma, one of the Ashtamangala of Indian religions such as Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism). Apart from the main stupa, the site also houses several Viharas, Brahmi inscriptions and other stupas. In the MahaStupa, there is a Maha Chaitya which is 1.6 metres (5.2 ft) high and 60 centimetres (2.0 ft) wide.

The MahaStupa resembles the Dharmarajika stupa in Taxila, Pakistan. The panels on the MahaStupa are made of limestone. The panels and the drum sections of the MahaStupa exhibit the Buddha footprint, Stupas, Bodhi trees and also narratives in the form of Jataka tales along with other stories. Since 1964, the Chandavaram Buddhist site has been excavated four times, and fifteen regular-sized and approximately one hundred small stupas have been discovered. The site comprises the following:

Main Stupa (MahaStupa)
Maha Chaitya
Votive Stupas

Monolith statue of Buddha
In 1985, a project called the “Buddha Poornima Project” was proposed. Under this project, the world’s tallest standing monolith statue of Buddha was to be erected on the site. Made out of granite, the statue was carved by 200 sculptors in two years and on completion it weighed 440 tonnes with an overall height of 17 metres (56 ft). However, the Buddha statue was transported to city of Hyderabad in 1988 instead, where it was erected in 1992 in the Hussain sagar lake and stands today.

Archeological findings
One MahaStupa, fifteen regular-sized and approximately one hundred small Stupas have been discovered in the Chandavaram Buddhist site. Apart from the Maha Chaitya, Silamandapa, Vihara and the Votive Stupas, more than two dozen “Buddhist slabs” (decorated with designs and inscriptions) have also been discovered.

Pilferage of artifacts has been reported at the Chandavaram Buddhist site since the year 2000. In Oct 2000, two 9 feet (2.7 m) long panels, with engravings of the Bodhi tree and of the Chaitra were uprooted from a cement platform and stolen from the site’s museum. In February 2001, three pillars, each measuring 9 feet (2.7 m) long and including one in which the Buddha was represented as fire were stolen. In March 2001, three more ornate pillars and a lotus medallion were stolen.

Source From Wikipedia