Thorny bushes on both sides of the road, an endless track of bumpy & dusty land with the distant hills greeted me once I crossed Velagapudi which houses the new Secretariat of the Government of Andhra Pradesh. A few hamlets later, finally there was the sight of this town – Amarāvatī, the former capital of Satavahanas, the town which is included and lends its name to the new and future capital of Andhra Pradesh.
Fashioned after the capital city of the mythical ‘King of Gods’ Devendra, Amarāvatī is located on the Southern banks of River Krishna (sadly almost always dried up except during the Rainy season). This town which was continuously inhabited since the 5th Century BCE posseses a single main road. On the Southern end of this road is the famous & historical temple dedicated to Lord Shiva as Amareshwara, one of the Pancharama Kshetras with the adjacent Amareswaram Ghat. On the other end is the famous Heritage Museum and bus-stop. Another connecting road intersects this main road almost in the centre – the 301 route through which busses ply to Vijayawada.
|New Gautama Buddha Statue at the Dhyana Buddha Park|
|The Ruins of the Old Mahachaitya|
|Gopuram of Amareshwara Swamy Temple, (Under Renovation)|
The town has three museums – the famous Heritage museum, the Archeological museum and the Ruins of the Mahachaitya in a nearby village called Dharanikota. A new park was developed recently, which houses a gigantic Statue of Gautama Buddha in Aasana (Sitting Posture).This was the capital of the Satavahanas, great patrons of art & architecture, during whose reign Buddhism flourished (c.2nd Century BCE – 2nd Century CE). The most interesting aspect of Amarāvatī is that it is the birth-place of Amarāvatī Sculpure, a school of art dealing with distinct Buddhist Sculptures, Marbles, Stupas etc, examples of which exist in the museums. The Jataka tales, life of Buddha were depicted in various Sculptures & Carvings in intricate panels – for this reason Amarāvatī Sculpure is considered as a Piece de Resistance in Ancient Indian Sculpture!
Amarāvatī Sculpture - Dharmachakra Stupa Worship
|Example of Amarāvatī Sculpture - Yakshini|
|Example of Amarāvatī Sculpture -A Jataka tale|
On my return, I’ve overheard two men speaking in Telugu in distinct Guntur slang. One of them complained that the old town Amarāvatī was not getting enough attention, tourism etc. The other one sounded optimistic - ‘Eh, attla kadu mama, time kavala. Nuvvu chustuvundoo’ (‘Not like that, It’s all in time. You wait and watch’)
It was sheer destiny that Amarāvatī lost its relevance for many centuries. It is apt now that the new capital is located here. Who decides how, when & which empires, nations, states or capitals rise and fall? Perhaps, it’s all in the time, as that old gentleman remarked!
Monday, 9th of July, 2018