Amaravati is situated in Sattenapalli Taluk
of Guntur District and it is famous
as the seat of a temple to Lord Shiva worshipped here as Lord 'Amareswara'
and also for the Buddhist sculptures, which are world famous.
'Amareswaram' is considered sacred because of three things, the Krishna
River, an important Kshetra with a 'Sthalamahatyam' and the Sri Mahalinga
Murthy, which are three sacred principles embodied in one. Amaravati was
also the capital of the Satavahana Dynasty, which ruled for four centuries
814c to 140 AD and was an ancient Buddhist centre in the region.
Amaravati is famous for its treasure trove of remnants of Buddhist cult - carvings, murals and sculptured panels. Amaravati got its fame from the Mahastupa, the largest stupa in the country. It is made of marble, and is 6 ft. high, 36.5 ft across and girdled by a circulatory path, which was founded in the 3rd century BC. The Mahastupa is known locally as Deepaladinne or Hillock of laps.
The identity of its original builder is not known although a fragment of a pillar inscription has been found at the site, indicating an association with Ashoka, the great Mauryan emperor of the 3rd century BC. The stupa was a depository for a number of small relic caskets and was the focus of a great Buddhist religious complex.
The Amaravati stupa typifies the class of brick stupas with a stone slab veneering round the drum and lower parts of the dome. Sumptuously sculptured and carved in its prosperous days, now only traces of it remain. The carvings in relief adorn the stupa both inside and outside and also on the base surrounding the drum. The stupas is kept at the Government Museum, Chennai .
Its architecture and embellishments are mostly to be inferred from its extant remains and many replicas carved in relief on what formed the casing slabs, found at the site.
A Sacred Place Of Worship
In this 'Punyakshetra', Lord Siva is in the form of five, lingas, viz., 'Pranaveswara', 'Agasteswara', 'Kosaleswara', 'Someswara' and 'Parthiveswara'. The Lord Amareswara here is worshipped with his consort 'Bala Chamundika' who is considered as the fourth of the 18 goddesses. There are also other deities inside the temple. The origin of the temple shrouded in mystery, though there are many legends, puranic and historical, about it. But the sanctity and the holiness of the place attract thousands of pilgrims even now.
The Legends Of Amareswara Temple
The lofty temple of Amareswara is situated at a spot on the river Krishna where it takes a north-to- south course, while the main river flows from west to east. There is a legend that even if the river Krishna flows in floods nothing will happen to that mountain and that the river will have to take some other side to flow. Hence it is that the river Krishna flows north to south at this place. Such spots where the river takes a different course for short distance are considered to be very holy places, where temples are normally built.
This ancient temple dedicated to Shiva enshrines a 15ft high white marble Shiva Lingam, and is surrounded on all the four sides by towering gopuras of the usual Dravidian type of temple Architecture. The 'Vimana' of the temple also shows the same style of architecture.
There is one legend that the temple was originally Buddhist in origin and later on this was readapted for Hindu worship. There is some force in this contention, since in the 'Amareswara Swami' temple the foundations are laid with the characteristic Buddhist slabs only. Just above the 'Mula Virat' in the Garbhagriha, one can see still a white marble lotus Medallion, done in the delicate and ornate style of the early Buddhist 'Silpas'. The Mula Virat is a long vertical cylinder made of white marble, which is so extensively used in the Buddhist monuments.
Situated at a particularly sacred spot of the holy river Krishna and a consecrated place of worship, it is of importance to both Buddhism and Hinduism. Any account of Amaravati will not be complete without reference to the world famous Buddha stupa here.
The main festivals in the temple are the Maha Shivaratri, which comes in the 'Magha Bahula Dasami' and the Navaratri and the 'Kalyana Utsavas'.
Road: Amaravati is situated twenty miles northwest of Guntur and is connected with it by a good motorable road. Taxis and buses are available from Guntur. The nearest railheads are Guntur and Vijayawada. There are good bus connections from Guntur to Amaravati.
Accommodation is available in the Rest House, Hotel Mamta and Swapna Lodge at Amaravati. There are also a Public Works Department Travellers Bungalow, some choultries and sheds for pilgrims' to stay.