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Ancient Buddhist stupa discovered in Andhra’s Nallamala forest

The Buddhist Stupa that was found by the team of historians led by Kandalu Savitri of Srikalahasti Degree College for Women

Kandula Savitri, Assistant Professor and Head of Department of History in Srikalahasti Degree College for Women in Andhra Pradesh’s Tirupati district, has made a remarkable find. She along with her team has located one Buddhist stupa, a cave, inscriptions and idols of gods and goddesses in the Nallamala forest located in Prakasam district.

On the hill located eight kilometres from Bogulu village, in the forest there are three temples – Shiva Temple, Ammavari Temple and Bhairava Muni Temple. During her study, Savitri found a fresh inscription and also that the architecture of the Shiva temple was not similar to that of the other two. Talking to India Narrative she said: “This Shiva temple is made of bricks both inside and out, and its architectural style is similar to that of a Buddhist stupa. We know there were Buddhist monks who lived here. The architectural style indicates that it is from BC (period). The Buddhist stupa in the shape of Shiva Temple is the oldest of the three temples.”

Inscription Utpatti Pidugu Kandula Savitri
The inscription describing the Shiva devotees with the Shiva Lingam emblem

Sharing more information on this, she added that phrases on the stone wall in this temple reveal that it was once a Buddhist place of worship and Shaiva devotees from the Kalamukha group with titles “Uttpati Pidugu – Ekanta Nivaasi” changed it. While the phrases are written in 8th Century Telugu characters there is a Shiva Lingam emblem too. As per her, this shows “that Buddhism thrived even in the Nallamala forest area.”

She added that the inscriptions were sent to Dr. K. Muniratnam, Director (Epigraphy), Directorate of Epigraphy, Archaeological Survey of India, Mysuru for review which revealed information about the Buddhist temple and the Shiva devotees.

The other two temples which are made of stone date back to 15th Century.

On the eastern side of the Bhairava Hill temples a cave was discovered which has two paths with a large rock. The monks had chiselled the fine stone from one side of the cave to come out the other side and get to destinations Surabheswara Kona in south, Mahanandi in the north and Kalpana Temple and Srisailanna in the west. At the same she suggested that the caves may have been used by prehistoric people. According to her, they utilised such caves with big rocks as houses.

Rock Cave of pre-historic period Kandula Savitri
The cave that may have been used by the prehistoric people

Among the numerous idols found were those of Vinayaka, Chamundeshwari, Bhairava, Ammavaru, Shiva, Naga Devata (snake god), 3 Nandiswara idols, and others.

Savitri and her team during this study worked under the supervision of Dr. D. Venkateswara Reddy, Associate Professor, Acharya Nagarjuna University, Ongole Campus.