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Amaravathi Mahachaitya information

Amaravathi Mahachaitya

The Amarāvatī Stupa, popularly known as the great stūpa at Amarāvathī, is a ruined Buddhist monument, probably built in phases between the third century BCE and about 250 CE, at Amaravathi village, Guntur district, Andhra Pradesh, India. The site is under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India. The campus includes the stūpa itself and the Archaeological Museum. The important sculptures from the site are now in a number of museums in India and abroad. A list of collections is given below. The name Amaravathi is relatively modern, having been applied to the town and site after the Amareśvara Liṅgasvāmin temple was built in the eighteenth century. The oldest maps and plans, drawn by Colin Mackenzie and dated 1816, label the stūpa simply as the deepaldinna or 'hill of lights'. The monument was not called a stūpa in ancient inscriptions, but rather the mahācetiya or great sanctuary. The mahācetiya was probably founded in the third century BCE in the time of Asoka but there is no decisive evidence for the foundation. The earliest inscription from the site belongs to the early centuries BCE but it cannot be assign to Aśoka with certainty. The main construction phases of Amaravati fall in two main periods, with the additions consisting of railings (vedikā) and carved slabs placed around the stūpa proper. These slabs are usually called 'drum slabs' because they were placed round the base of the stūpa which has a shape similar to a circular drum. In the early period (circa 200-100 BCE), the stūpa had a simple railing consisting of granite pillars, with plain cross-bars, and coping stones. The coping stones with youths and animal reliefs, the early drum slabs, and some other early fragments belong to this period. The stūpa must have been fairly large at this time, considering the size of the granite pillars (some of which are still seen in situ, following excavations). The late period of construction started around ca. 50 BCE and continued until circa 250 CE. This period is divided this period into three phases by Akira Shimada on the basis of the dates that can be assigned to parts of the great limestone railing. The first phase is 50-0 CE, and the same period as the Sanchi stūpa I gateways. The second phase is 50-100 CE, the same period as Karli caitya and the Pandavleni Caves (no. 3 and 10) at Nasik. The third phase is circa 200-250 CE based on comparisons with Nagarjunakonda sculpture. Some other types of sculpture of belong to an even later time, about the seventh or eighth centuries, and include standing Bodhisattvas and goddesses. Amaravātī continued to be active after this time, probably to about the thirteenth century.

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