As many as 24 heritage enthusiasts gathered at Bavikonda to witness the Blood Wolf Moon on Monday in Vizag. It was an evening to cherish at Vizag’s Buddhist heritage site as the assemblage was treated to a spectacle amidst a serene ambience atop the hill.
“The Blood Wolf Moon is a unique phenomenon. The whole idea behind the visit to Bavikonda was to experience this special phenomenon from a unique place,” Jayshree Hatangadi, a Heritage Narrator, shared.
She further added that given the connection between the full moon and Gautam Buddha, experiencing the phenomenon from Bavikonda was all the more special. “The uniqueness of watching the Blood Wolf Moon from Bavikonda is very evident when we reflect and meditate here. The gathering, while facing the Maha Stupa, made chants of Buddham Sharanam as the moon ascended in the night sky,” she added.
Explaining the prominence of the phenomenon, Arunima, one of the participants of the event in the city on Monday, said, “The phenomenon is special as it is the first full moon of the year. Also, there was a lunar eclipse that took place earlier in the day. While the moon attains its reddish colour from the eclipse, it’s called as the Wolf Moon since wolves used to howl at the full moon during the winters.”
Bavikonda is one of the early Buddhist centres of Theravada Style with influences of Sailya Sect during 1st/2nd Century AD. Located about 16 km from Vizag, this place has acquired its name due to its wells created to collect rainwater for drinking at this Buddhist establishment. On-site there are many findings like a stone stupa; circular Chaityagruha (an early Buddhist feature); later apsidal Chaitya (Roman Basilica influence); Ayyaka platforms (N Indian influence), a congregation hall, viharas, kitchen-cum-store complex. Roman coins, satavahana coins and pottery dating back to 3rd century BC and 2nd Century A.D were recovered here. But more significantly, Buddha padas, Chattra pieces, Bhrami letters engraved on pottery, stucco figurines were found here.
Bavikonda is considered by many to be one of the oldest and most sacred Buddhist centres in Asia. With a series of hills cleverly carved into stupas, this site is very similar to Borobudur, Indonesia. During the conservation work of Mahachaitya five receptacles containing six silver and gold caskets were recovered from inner brick course of the anda at diagonal points exactly facing the ayaka platforms. One casket is supposed to be carrying Buddha’s relics (presently in Hyderabad Museum).