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Visakhapatnam’s 2000-year-old Buddhist site of Thotlakonda

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    History & Culture
  • Published
    23rd Apr, 2021


Historians and biologists are campaigning to protect the ancient Buddhist site of Thotlakonda in Visakhapatnam, which is also a home to an estimated 90 species of bird

About the Buddhist site

Cultural Significance:

  • The Thotlakonda Buddhist Complexis situated on a hill near Bheemunipatnam which is about 15 km from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
  • The site is thought of practicing Hinayana Buddhism from 200 BCE to 200 CE.
  • Thotlakonda is thought to be under influence of ancient Kalinga, which was an important source of dissemination of Buddhismto Sri Lanka and various parts of Southeast Asia.
  • It provides an insight into the transoceanic diffusion of Indic culture, especially Buddhism.
  • The site has been declared as an area comprising a protected monument under the Andhra Pradesh Ancient and Historical Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1960.
  • A partial excavation of the site by the State Archaeology Department (1988-1992) found ancient pottery such as tan ware, black red ware, coins from the Satavahana period and Roman coins, labels with Brahmi inscriptions, inscribed Chhatra pieces, terracotta and glass beads, bangles, stuccos and stone sculptural remains at the site.

Ecological Significance

  • The site has been left undisturbed for more than 2,000 years since and allowed the flora and fauna of this area to develop naturally.
  • The site is home to birds and raptors like the white-bellied sea eagle, Indian rock eagle, Indian spotted eagle, black-shouldered kite, and common kestrel.

Hinayana Buddhism

  • Buddhism was divided into two sects namely Mahayana and Hinayana.
  • The terms Hinayana  referes to the Lesser Vehicle or Modest Vehicle and Mahayana  to Greater Vehicle or Vast Vehicle, are originated in The Prajnaparamita Sutras.
    • Hinayana follows the original teaching of Buddha.
    • It emphasizes on individual salvation through self discipline and meditation.
    • Hinayana Buddhists think Buddha as a Human instead of a God who found a way to Nirvana.
    • It follows teaching or Philosophy of Buddha rather taking it a religion.
    • It is found mostly in the South and West covering Indochina and Ceylon (Sri-Lanka).
    • It early work written in Pali language (e.g. Kamma, Dhamma).