26 May 2021 marks the 2583rd birth anniversary of Gautam Buddha. Buddha Purnima is the day when we celebrate the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha. The founder of the Buddhist religion, Prince Siddhartha Gautama is revered worldwide as Lord Buddha. It is said that after attaining enlightenment, Buddha travelled along the river Ganges to spread his preachings. His preachings were soon accepted by all due to their simplicity and peacefulness and became the foundation of what we know today as Buddhism. On the auspicious occasion of Buddha Purnima, Yo! Vizag brings to you some prominent Buddhist locations in and around Vizag that form a Buddhist Corridor.
Lord Buddha was born around mid 400 BC in Lumbini, present-day Nepal. He experienced the life of the Royals. But as he grew up, he started to realise that materialistic things can’t be the source of happiness. He renounced all his riches. Buddha set on a journey to find the meaning of life. He attained his enlightenment under the peepal tree in Bodh Gaya (in modern-day Bihar).
Although he was born as a Hindu prince, Gautama, in his Buddhist teachings, condoned the caste system and traditions such as animal sacrifices. He believed that the true objective of a man is to attain inner peace and wisdom.
The Theravada Buddhist monks are believed to be the primary transmitters of the original Buddhist teachings. They uphold the authority of the Pali canon, the earliest Buddhist scriptures. They considered Lord Gautama Buddha as a man of wisdom. They promoted his teachings as the way of life and enlightenment (Nirvana) to be followed.
Theravada monks strictly adhered to rules and spent long hours of meditation. They followed a life of dedication and discipline. The Theravada Bhikhus, monks meditate at dawn, noon & sunset. Depend on donations for food & clothing.
Vizag Buddhist Corridor: Prominent Buddhist sites in Vizag
Several districts in Andhra Pradesh, including Visakhapatnam, are given the heritage status of ‘Buddhist Corridor’. This corridor refers to sites of Buddhist heritage. These sites are knit close to each other and are a major tourist attraction.
Bavikonda, Thotlakonda, Pavuralakonda and Bojjannakonda form the ‘Buddhist Corridor’ at Visakhapatnam. Their existence can be dated back to about 2,000 years ago. “All these Buddhist sites require our time, interest, inclination to comprehend their existence,” says Jayshree Hatangadi, a Heritage Narrator in Visakhapatnam.
In less than 250 years after his birth, the Buddhist corridor was formed in Vizag. It consisted of an active institution of learning and experience for monks. Monks started to devote themselves to Lord Buddha. These sites became the principal area for Buddhist teachings and nirvana. Thotlakonda & Bavikonda were sites of Boudharamam. A holy place that preached Buddha’s teachings. All of the sites in Vizag were actively practising and promoting Buddhism. Visakhapatnam Buddhist sites show the significance of the earliest period of Buddhism called Hinayana, Theravada.
All of the monks at Vizag’s Buddhist Corridor practised the same. Thotlakonda, Bavikonda, Pavuralakonda sites have cisterns, monuments that confirm Thervada lifestyle. Monuments situated in Vizag are adorned with Buddhist monastery features. Thottus, Bavis, Mahastupa, Chaitya grihas, Stupas (of all kinds), Buddhapada, Vedikas ,Viharas, Bandagarah & Bandagarika, Upathanasala, Kapiyyabhumi.
One can enjoy the peaceful presence of Buddhists that were once present there. The historical glory of Buddha can be felt in every aspect of these monuments. Jayshree Hatangadi penned down a beautiful experience as she visited one of the sights of Vizag’s Buddhist Corridor. “I could almost feel the rustle of the orange robes moving all over the site…whispering of their chants, & quietness of meditation with bird & insect sounds sharing their dedication to the choice called Boudha Dharma.”
Written by Jayshree Hatangadi, Heritage Narrator in Visakhapatnam.