30 January 2011

Thotlakonda and Bojjannakonda budhist sites

Thotlakonda: Vishakhapatnam was once upon a time a great hub for budhist activities. We can find many ancient budhist sites nearby. The most famous being the Thotlakonda site. It is located on the very scenic sea side drive towards Bheemli. The ruins of the stupas and the quarters of the monks are located on a hill with a splendid view of hills on one side and the sea on the other.
Bojjannakonda rideMost of the travels i have been doing lately in coastal andhra were in cabs / buses / trains. I had been longing for the rush of freedom which only zooming my bike can give.
I located Bojjanna konda which was around 50 kms from Vizag. The pics on the net looked a little promising. So i just picked my jacket and got onto my bike.
The usually crowded highway was clear and i could happily cruise on 100 kmph without many breaks. The site is located just before entering Anakapalle from the highway near a village called Sankara which derives its name from Sangharam.
The ruins are believed to be dating around 4th century AD. The site acutally comprises of two adjacent hills called Bojjannakonda and Lingalakonda. That was the peak of activity, and historians believe after that era it decreased due to the rise of hinduism.
The main stupa is rock cut and encased in a brick structure.There are many rock cut caves which were possibly used for meditation or as a center of learning. There are many miniature Stupa like structures on the hill adjacent to Lingalakonda.
During the excavation they found many coins and earthenware dating to that era. One would expect them to be displayed near the site in a small museum, but despite being a protected site by the ASI... there is hardly anything except a board mentioning about the site briefly.
These sites were discovered in late 80's and pushed the history of Vizag back by 2000 years. Some even say that Vishakhapatnam derives its name from an ancient but very famous Budhist monk.

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