Location: Government Museum, Chennai (Madras)
Excavated From: Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh
Founded By: An emissary of Emperor Ashoka
Timings: 10 am to 5 pm (Saturday to Thursday)
Amaravati is a small town situated in the Guntur District of Andhra
Pradesh, on the embankment of River Krishna. It was the capital of
Satavahanas from 2nd century BC to 3rd century AD and is also the
excavation site of an ancient Buddhist Stupa, constructed during the
rule of Emperor Ashoka. Kushanas of Mathura were the ones to introduce
the principles and teachings of Buddhism in Amravati town, near Chennai.
Amravati stupa was founded by an emissary of Emperor Ashoka and its
construction got completed around 2000 years ago.
Amravati Stupa illustrates Lord Buddha in a human form and He is shown
subduing an elephant. It is taller than the Sanchi stupa and has 95 ft
high platforms, extending in the four cardinal directions, along with a
huge circular dome. The carved panels of the stupa depict the life story
of Lord Buddha. The entire stupa stands adorned with limestone reliefs
and freestanding Buddha figures. With the decline of Buddhism in India,
the stupa also faced neglect and got buried under rubble.
A 14th century inscription in Sri Lanka mentions that some repairs were
made to the stupa. However, it were the European scholars, like Sir
Walter Smith, Robert Sewell, James Burgess and Alexander Rea, who
excavated the site and discovered the sculptures that once adorned the
stupa, which include bas-relief medallions and paneled friezes.
Presently, the stupa has been kept in the Government Museum of Chennai.