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Thotlakonda & Bavikonda

Thotlakonda

Those who seek for an ideal getaway for an extended weekend during a trip to Andhra Pradesh, can head towards the hills of Thotlakonda and Bavikonda. Located 15 km from Visakhapatnam, these ancient Buddhist sites lie on the Vizag-Bhimli highway. The strange structures of these hills were spotted by the Indian Navy in an aerial survey of Vizag port. Overlooking the Bay of Bengal, the hills are of similar kind of structure.


Thotlakonda

Literally meaning 'the hill in the shape of Eagle's head' in Telugu, Thotlakonda is known for its breathtaking ancient Buddhist structures like stupas, chaityagrihas, pillared congregation halls, viharas with cells, bhandagaras (storerooms), a bhojanshala (refectory), parts of a drainage system, stone pathways and huge water reservoirs. One visiting this hill is welcomed through a gate built in the typical Buddhist style.

A winding road past a Buddha statue takes you to the hilltop housing the ancient ruins. The Buddhist complex on the hill covers an area of about 120 acres, and contains the remains of an ancient Buddhist monastery and an advance centre of learning. The meditation halls in the complex are specially designed to protect Monks from outside disturbances with stupas at the centre and guards at the entrance of the hall.

One can also see the directions of sunrise and sunset marked in stones. The best part of this complex lies in its excavations that presented various kinds of pottery, beads, bangle pieces, tiles, stucco, iron objects, sculptural remains, moulded bricks, inscriptions, coins etc.


Bavikonda

The word Bovikonda literally means 'a hill of wells' in Telugu. Included among the oldest and most sacred Buddhist sites in Asia, Bovikonda has huge circular tanks or wells that were used for storing water as well as for dyeing the robes of monks. The hill offers a spectacular view of the surroundings and the Buddhist ruins spread over an area of about 40 acres.

Bavikonda was once a leading learning centre of Hinayana Buddhism, which flourished between the 3rd century BC and the 3rd century AD. A relic casket at Mahachitya, containing a huge quantity of ash, charcoal and bone (supposedly the remains of Gautama Buddha), is an important attraction in Bavikonda.

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