Experts Fear Capital Burial of Buddhist Heritage along Krishna

Tourists enjoying the beauty of the Undavalli caves in Guntur district on Monday. (Bottom) A view of the famous Mogalrajpuram caves that are located in the heart of Vijayawada | EXPRESS PHOTO

Tourists enjoying the beauty of the Undavalli caves in Guntur district on Monday. (Bottom) A view of the famous Mogalrajpuram caves that are located in the heart of Vijayawada | EXPRESS PHOTO

New Indian Express
By P Laxma Reddy Published: 09th September 2014 06:24 AM Last Updated: 09th September 2014 06:24 AM

VIJAYAWADA: The state government must evolve a proper mechanism to protect archaeological monuments and historical sites before embarking on the massive construction of the Capital city in Vijayawada region as several important Buddhist remnants and sites are located on either side of river Krishna, feel culture and heritage enthusiasts.

They are worried about the possible destruction of the sites that are yet to be declared as protected monuments and also threat to the sites that were already declared as protected due to the rapid construction activity.

In view of this, they are demanding that the government take steps for a survey by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) in this region in addition to the survey taken up by the state government to unearth more Buddhist or other remnants and also protect the unearthed sites.

“During the Satavahana period, the present Amaravati town was called Dhanyakataka or Dharanikota. And it was also the capital for them. We can find several ancient remains on either side of river Krishna in both Guntur and Krishna districts. I expect that we can unearth several monuments, if we take up a comprehensive survey and excavations in the area. In view of this, the government should take utmost care and conduct a survey before taking up constructions between Mangalagiri and Amaravati towns,” said an official of the Archaeology Department.

Dr GV Purnchand, general secretary of the Krishna District Writers’ Association and other culture enthusiasts are demanding that the government take up a complete survey in the region including Vijayawada city which has ancient sites like Moghalrajapuram caves.

He also underlined the need for excavations on the Indrakeeladri hill at Vidyadharapuram in the city stating that remains of the ancient culture may be found there.

“Since this area is located on the banks of river Krishna, there are numerous villages with rich history and culture. We need to protect them from indiscriminate construction which would take place in the future,” he said and reminded how the then government had shifted all the remains to Nagarjunakonda during the construction of the Nagarjuna Sagar Project with a view to protecting the heritage.

“Though the construction of the towns or cities is different from dams, we need to see that there will not be any damage to the heritage structures – small or big. First of all, we need to identify all the protected and unprotected sites in this region and take steps for their conservation,” he said.

It may be worth mentioning that the Undavalli caves, a monolithic example of rock-cuts, are also located near Vijayawada at Undavalli in Tadepalle mandal in Guntur district. A major Buddhist site Vaikuntapuram is also located between Amaravathi and Mangalagiri towns. Another site is at Pondugula near Mylavaram in Krishna.

According to archaeological sources, scores of Buddhist sites fall within the 50-km radius of Vijayawada city.

Ch Mallikarjuna Rao, a lawyer from Guntur, also underscores the need to protect the culture and heritage of this region. “We need to focus on the aspects like cultural heritage as we are all set to construct a model capital city. It should also reflect our rich culture,” he adds.

CULTURE CONCERNS

Culture enthusiasts stress the need for a comprehensive survey of ancient remains in the capital region.
They are afraid of the rapid construction that is in the offing.
Many remnants including large monasteries and small Buddhist stupas are found in this region.
Two important towns, Amaravati and Mangalagiri come under the capital region.

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