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Maha Stupa ready for display

Ramesh Susarla



The Ghantasala Buddhist Maha Stupa.

AMARAVATHI: The Ghantasala Buddhist Maha Stupa, one of the three early signs of Buddhism in Andhra Pradesh, will be re-opened for full public viewing from Buddha Purnima on May 19 after one year and three months of excavation and conservation work carried out by Archaeological Survey of India.

Superintending Archaeologist of ASI Hyderabad region D. Jitendra Das told The Hindu that the Buddhist Maha Stupa that dates back to 2nd Century A.D.

Vandalised

Constructed during early Satavahana rule in these parts, it was vandalised by locals during 18th Century A.D. as recorded by Alexander Rea, an East India Company officer in his records of discovering this Stupa, contemporary to Amaravathi and Bhattiprolu Stupas.

After the discovery of the specially-designed Stupa in the shape of a wheel in 19th Century A.D., Alexander Rea partially excavated the big mound at Ghantasala and took out some architecturally artistic pieces made of Green Limestone brought from Dachepalli region of Guntur district. He left the Stupa site to nature’s vagaries, which turned it again into a mound. The gaps were filled with soil so that damage was not done to original Lower Pradikshina constructed with typical burnt bricks of those days, the ASI official said.

In January 2007 the ASI began to re-excavate, conserve, repair and preserve the originality of the valuable archaeological site in Krishna district, said Assistant Superintending Archaeologist D. Kanna Babu.

Now the ASI proposes to open the Buddhist site to public by organising 2553rd Buddha Jayanti by inviting all people connected with Buddhist associations. The excavation brought to light all the architectural features of the wheel-like structure throwing light on the skills of Andhra sculptors of those days, Mr. Kanna Babu added.

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