An ancient significant pilgrimage site with a superb collection of Buddhist monuments dating back to 2000 years old, Amaravati is nestled in the Guntur District in the beautiful state of Andhra Pradesh. It is also dubbed as Dhanyakataka and is also famous for its Amareswara Shrine devoted to Lord Shiva. Another main attraction of Amaravati is the ancient Stupa, famous for the carved pillars and one should explore it during his/her tour for wonderful experience. There is a museum by the name of this place putting on sight the archaeological items from other Buddhist destinations including relic-caskets, a gold necklace, bone-relics and gold flowers.
The Amravati stupa, which is also known as Mahachaitya Stupa, has the privilege of being the largest stupa(95 feet high) in India – the birthplace of Buddhism. Built during the 2nd century BCE, the stupa was discovered by a British archaeologist, Colonel Colin Mackenzie in 1797. The stupa was earlier a simple structure with limestone crossbars and simple carvings, but when renovated by the Satavahana rulers, became a highly marked architectural monument.
Buddhist Stupa, which is a mound-like or semi-hemispherical structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the ashes of Buddhist monks, used by Buddhists as a place of meditation. However, it was during the reign of emperor Ashoka, that the original structure was established. Today, one can see the Stupa decorated with carvings of life and teachings of Buddha. The 95 ft tall structure is made of brick with a circular dome and platforms towards all four directions. It is decorated with carved panels which tell the story of Buddha’s life. Art historians regard the Amaravathi art as one of the three major styles or schools of ancient Indian art, the other two being the Gandhara style and the Mathura style. Some of the Buddhist sculptures of Amaravathi betray a Greco-Roman influence that was the direct result of the close trade and diplomatic contacts between South India and the ancient Romans.
Amaravati Amareswara Temple
Amaravati Temple stands on the banks of River Krishna. This temple is dedicated to Lord Siva and the presiding deity is called by Amareswara Swamy. The main deity here in this temple is in Linga form which is of 15 feet height.
As per the Legends stated in the Skanda Purana, At the end of Dwapara Yuga and the beginning of KaliYuga, Sage Sounakadi asked Sage Narada the best way to attain salvation. Sage Narada advised Sage Sounakadi to take bath regularly in the river Krishna and live on the banks of the river as this river was created by Lord Krishna. Sage Narada told the significance of Amareswara Temple as follows.
Amareswara Temple is located on the southern bank of river Krishna and on the south-eastern side of the Srisailam. Lord Siva self-manifested here in the form of Linga to grant wishes for the devotees. He also mentioned that one who takes the bath in River Krishna and worships Amareswara here in this temple will be relieved from the sins. Those who stays at this place for 3 days and worships the Lord with devotion will attain Siva Loka. If any devotee dies here will be absorbed by the Lord Siva.
Amaravati Temple is as holy as the Varanasi Temple in the Northern India and the river Krishna is as holy as the River Ganga which flows next to Varanasi Temple.