Buddhavanam, located at Nagarjunasagar, Nalgonda District in Telangana state is a serene and spiritual destination that offers visitors a golden opportunity to connect with their inner selves and immerse themselves in the teachings of Buddhism.
TelanganaSituated in the midst of lush greenery and surrounded by the peaceful sounds of nature, Buddhavanam is a place of tranquillity and contemplation. The entire project has been illuminated with monument-friendly dynamic lighting.
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The word ‘Buddhavanam’ means ‘The Forest of the Buddha’ in Sanskrit, and this beautiful retreat lives up to its name. Situated in the midst of lush greenery and surrounded by the peaceful sounds of nature, Buddhavanam is a place of tranquillity and contemplation. The entire project has been illuminated with monument-friendly dynamic lighting.
In order to build the Buddhist Theme Park of Buddhavanam, the Telangana State Tourist Development Corporation (TSDTC) acquired 279 acres of land on the northern banks of the river Krishna near the Nagarjunasagar reservoir. The reservoir was created when a dam was built over the Krishna River. Throughout the third and fourth century AD, the Ikshvaku dynasty dominated Andhradesa, and the city of Vijayapuri (present-day Nagarjunakonda) served as the empire’s capital. Nagarjunakonda was named after Acharya Nagarjuna, a well-known Buddhist scholar and Madhyamika philosopher of ancient times.Many different Buddhist sects had their monasteries, shrines, and stupas built in Nagarjunakondabuilt in that era to help spread the Dhamma.
One of the main attractions at Buddhavanam is the large Buddha statue that welcomes visitors upon their arrival here. This impressive structure, standing at a height of 27 feet, is one of the tallest Buddha statue in the state of Telangana
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Between 1954 and 1960, archaeologists at Nagarjunakonda uncovered several Buddhist sculptures, panels, and artefacts, including a Maha Stupa, votive stupas, chaityas, silamantapas, and more. Brick Brahmanical temples and a royal complex were also among the uncovered buildings. The sculpture panels portrayed pivotal moments in Buddha’s life and the Jataka tales. When the Nagarjunasagar reservoir threatened to flood these sites, they were relocated to Nagarjunakonda Island and the ferry terminal at Anupu on the Krishna’s right bank. The island museum is open to the public and features displays of the recovered antiquities, including sacred Buddha relics.
One of the main attractions at Buddhavanam is the large Buddha statue that welcomes visitors upon their arrival here. This impressive structure, standing at a height of 27 feet, is one of the tallest Buddha statue in the state of Telangana. It is a magnificent sight to behold and is a symbol of the Buddhist teachings of peace, love, and compassion.
In addition to the Buddha statue, there are several other features at Buddhavanam that make it an ideal destination for those seeking a spiritual experience. The meditation hall is a quiet and calming space where visitors can practice mindfulness and learn techniques for inner peace and relaxation. The meditation hall is open to all, regardless of religion or background, and welcomes individuals of all ages.
TelanganaThe advent of Buddhism into Telangana is a fascinating tale which can be traced back to the lifetime of the Buddha as attested by the Parayanavagga and Suttanipata.
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One of the most unique aspects of Buddhavanam is the opportunity to participate in a Vipassana meditation retreat. Vipassana is a technique that involves introspection and self-examination, with the goal of achieving a deeper understanding of oneself and the world around us. The retreats are typically 10 days long and are conducted in complete silence, allowing participants to focus entirely on their inner journey.
Apart from these attractions, the natural beauty of Buddhavanam is also a sight to behold. The surrounding forests and hills provide a breathtaking backdrop, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and hikers. There are several walking trails around the centre that visitors can explore, taking in the sights and sounds of the local flora and fauna.The advent of Buddhism into Telangana is a fascinating tale which can be traced back to the lifetime of the Buddha as attested by the Parayanavagga and Suttanipata. According to these ancient texts, a Brahmin sage Bavari who was settled on an island called Kavittavana on the Godavari River in Nirmal district, dispatched his 16 disciples to Magadha to hear the teachings of the Buddha. They became followers of the Buddha. Pingiya, the chief disciple, brought Buddha’s teachings back to Bavari and became an Arhant. Since then, Telangana witnessed all the three phases of Buddhism, that is, Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana, as seen at places like Kotalingala, Kambalapalli, Pashigaon, Dhulikatta, Phanigiri, Tirumalagiri, Wardhamanukota, Gajulabanda, Nelakondapalli, and Siri Parvata (Vijayapuri) or the present-day Nagarjunasagar region or Nagarjunakonda.
Buddhavanam has many thematic segments depicting major events from the life of Siddhartha Gautama.
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TSTDC developed the Buddhist Heritage Theme Park of Buddhavanam at Nagarjunasagar to create awareness about Telangana’s Buddhist heritage for both domestic and foreign tourists. Buddhavanam has many thematic segments depicting major events from the life of Siddhartha Gautama. The Jataka Park, for instance, depicts his previous birth stories. Other attractions here include the Stupa Park with Miniature Stupas,Mahastupa, Buddhist Heritage Museum, Acharya Nagarjuna Statue on the ground floor of Mahastupa, a 27-feet-high replica of the Avukana Buddha Statue and a Dhamma Belldonated by the Government of Sri Lanka which is a first of its kind in India.
The spectacular entrance plaza is a square having eight quadrants with four openings. All the quadrants are embellished with panels with relief sculptures depicting a variety of themes. These include asthamangala (eight auspicious) symbols, Buddha in iconic form, animals, birds, Bodhi tree, the central themes including Buddhapadas, pillar of fire carrying the crown(hair) of Siddhartha, Nagamuchilinda, worship of holy relic and Siddhartha carrying a mighty bowwith an Ashoka Dharma Chakra on the pillar at the centre.
BUDDHA CHARITAVANAM (LIFE OF THE BUDDHA
The principal attractions of this segment at the entrance of the park are depictions of the major events from the life of Siddhartha Gautama, like his birth, the four encounters,the Great Departure, the Enlightenment, the first discourse and the Mahaparinirvana (the Great Extinction). These are cast in bronze and there’s a Buddhapada slab with asthamangala(eight auspicious) symbols carved in Palnadu lime stone.
JATAKAVANAM (BODHISATTVA PARK)
The Bodhisattva goes through several lives practicing dasaparamitas or ten perfections before he becomes the Buddha. The practice of ten perfections (dasaparamita) required for the Buddhahood are Dana (Generosity), Sila (Virtue), Kshanti (Patience), Virya (Courage), Dhyana (Concentration), Prajña (Wisdom), Tyaga (Renunciation), Satya (Truth), Karuna (Loving kindness) and Samata (Equanimity). Out of the 547 Jataka stories, 40 Jataka stories are illustrated here in Palnadu limestone in the Amaravati schools of art, based on the original sculptural panels of Amaravati, Phanigiri, Nagarjunakonda, Goli, Jaggayyapeta and Chandavaram Buddhist sites.
DHYANAVANAM (MEDITATION PARK)
A replica of the Avukana Buddha (27 ft high), donated by the Government of Sri Lanka is erected in the Meditation Park.
STUPAVANAM (MINIATURE STUPA PARK)
The replica’s of the stupas of Karla (Maharashtra, India), Ajanta (Maharashtra, India), Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh, India), Sarnath (Uttar Pradesh, India), Mankiala (Punjab, Pakistan) and Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka), Kahu-jo-daro, Mirpur Khas (Pakistan), Boudhanath (Nepal), Topdarra (Afghanistan), Wat Mahathat Chedi (Thailand), Pardo Kaling Chorten (Tibet), Shwesandaw(Myanmar), and Gyeongju (South Korea) are replicated in smaller dimensions to present a glimpse of the Buddhist stupa architecture of India and Southeast Asia.
The Mahastupa, the centre of attraction of the Buddhavanampark, is built according to the dimensions and architecture of the original Stupa of Amaravati, with a Vedika (drum), Dome (Anda) and a Harmika on its top. With a width of 42 metres and 21 metres in height, the stupa is embellished with sculptural panels of Buddhist themes on its drum and dome portions all around.
The ornate wall of the Mahastupa vedika is intricately carved with the scenes from the Buddha’s life, important kings and patrons of Dhamma, the Dome portion is encased with sculptural panels depicting Buddhist symbols like the Stupa, the Vajrasana, Bodhi tree, pillar of fire and Jataka stories describing events from the life of the Buddha. The ground floor of the stupa houses the Acharya Nagarjuna Statue and a museum with a display of Buddhist sculptures and 100-year-old eye copies of the Ajanta frescoes and a conference hall.
VIRTUAL SKY VIEW INSIDE MAHASTUPA
The central stupa with a height of 25 feet has Panchadhyani Buddhas installed on all its eight sides. The Mahastupa’s ceiling is decorated with lotus petals against a sky background. The circular dome reflects the natural sky effect on the inner concave curvature of the dome. The interior of the ceiling reflecting the sky with perforated trapezoidal panels, each different from the other and up to 2.5 metres in size, was designed exclusively to suit the overall design, considering the thermodynamics of the light and its effect that adds a special radiance. The lotus petals (960) and sky panels (528) are engineered and manufactured with German technology,a first-of-its-kind use in the world.
Buddhavanam has hosted several conferences and seminars themed on Buddhism over the years. In 2017, a two-day conference titled ‘Global Celebrations on Buddhist Heritage of Telangana’ was held at Hyderabad, followed by familiarisation tours of Buddhavanam. The conference saw participation from 32 foreign delegates from 16 countries and 31 delegates from different states of India besides 200 local delegates. A total of 28 presentations were made in the conference. A publication on the ‘Buddhist Heritage of Telangana’was also brought out. In 2019, an International Seminar on Buddhist Archaeology called ‘Telangana Bouddha Sangiti – 2019’ was held at Hyderabad, followed by FAM tours of Buddhavanam. There were 8 foreign delegates from 8 countries and 16 delegates from different states of India besides 200 local delegates in attendance. A total of 22 presentations were made in the seminar. A publication titled ‘Buddhist Archaeology in Telangana’ and an Abstract on the International Seminar of ‘Telangana BouddhaSangiti – 2019’was also published subsequently.
The Buddhavanam project was officially inaugurated on 14th May, 2022 followed by Buddha Jayanthi (Vaisakha Purnima) Celebrations on 16th May, 2022 with the participation of Buddhist Monks and Buddhists on a large scale. Special lectures were also organised on the occasion.
The Buddhavanam Project organised Dhamma Diksha Divas on 14th October, 2022, duly illuminating the Mahastupa and entrance plaza in which a large number of Buddhist followers and the general public participated. The Buddhavanam Project also organised Dhamma Deepoosatavam on 25th October, 2022 duly illuminating the Mahastupa with 1,000 lamps lit by venerable Buddhist Monks.Apart from this, Buddhist Monks and dignitaries from Bhutan, Vietnam, Mongolia and Ladakh have visited Buddhavanam at different times.
The Buddhavanam Project with its unique attractions has bagged a few awards as well. Telangana Tourism has given it an award on the occasion of World Tourism Day 2022 for providing the best civic amenities and infrastructure to the tourists. Buddhavanam has also received the best documentary film award from the Public Relations Society of India. It has also bagged a prestigious International Award called ‘Bhutan Bangladesh India and Nepal (BBIN) Tourism Mitra Award’ in 2022 at Kolkata given by the Association of Buddhist Tour Operators (ABTO).
WHERE TO STAY
STAYTSTDC’s Vijay ViharHotel enjoys a prime location very close to the Nagarjunasagar Dam and is an ideal retreat for tourists to visit the world’s tallest masonry dam which is built across the Krishna River, Nagarjunakonda Island Museum with boat ride facility, and Buddhavanam. Facilities include A/C and Non A/C (Suite, Deluxe, and Standard) rooms, conference hall, board room, and swimming pool, all in a pleasant ambience which makes any holiday all the more enjoyable. Delicious food is served at the restaurant and there are a range of amenities available for tourists and Cottage at Buddhavanam. Other accommodation options include Park Inn and Nagarjuna Sagar Resort.
To conclude, Buddhavanam is a spiritual gem of Telangana, offering visitors a chance to connect with their inner selves and deepen their understanding of Buddhism and its founder. Whether you’re looking for a place to meditate, read, or simply soak in the natural beauty of the surroundings, Buddhavanam has something for everyone. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a peaceful and spiritual experience.