A delight of historians
A half-moon stone at the entrance to a vihara.
Buddhism flourished in Visakhapatnam region between third century BC and third century AD. The contemporary Buddhist heritage sites - Thotlakonda, Bavikonda and Pavuralakonda - are all located atop hills along the sea between Visakhapatnam and Bheemunipatnam.
Pavuralakonda lies about 25 kilometres from Visakhapatnam near Bheemunipatnam. The site was unearthed during 1990-91 and a number of artefacts found in the excavations done so far. The site must have derived its name from the presence of a large number of white stones (pavu rallu) on the hill.
The long winding drive on the Beach Road, which passes alongside the hills, offers a breath-taking view of the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal. This site is bigger than Thotlakonda and Bavikonda in extent and interestingly, Pavuralakonda has more number of cisterns that than at Thotlakonda, which has derived its name from the presence of a number of `Thotlu' (cisterns) on the hill. In all, there are 14 rock-cut cisterns at this site.
A cistern for collection of rain water atop Pavuralakonda. The dilapidated Dutch guest house can be seen in the background.
The scene from atop the hill provides a picturesque view of the confluence of the Gosthani with the bay. An apsidal Chaityagriha (place of worship) and `U'- shaped Chaityagriha, which indicates Roman-influence, were found at the site.
A `Vihara' (place for the monks to rest) and a varendah have been found during this year's excavations, which concluded before the onset of monsoon in June. Half-moon stones, which are a characteristic feature of Buddhist sites, have been found at the entrance to the viharas.
A Naga sculpture, and a big pot and a small pot, which must have been used for storage of food grains, were were also found. This apart, stone pillared mandapas, votive stupas, a relic casket and a Roman and two Satavahana coins, stucco pieces, rouletted ware and floral motifs were among the artefacts discovered at the site so far.
The proximity of the site to the coast and the discovery of coins suggests that trade existed not only with other parts of the country but also with different parts of the globe.
The main site readied for major scientific excavations.
The heritage site has been partially disturbed by the construction of a guest house by the Dutch. There is no inscriptional evidence on the dilapidated building, whose walls are still intact. Some of the big bricks used in the Buddhist construction were utilised in the construction of the walls. The building is in a state of neglect.
The excavations will be continued next year.
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