Buddhist remnants draw art historians

Archaeologists at the Bhimeswara Swamy temple at Chebrolu in Guntur district on Friday. —Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar

Archaeologists at the Bhimeswara Swamy temple at Chebrolu in Guntur district on Friday. —Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar

The Hindu
P. SAMUEL JONATHAN

16 archaeologists visit centuries-old Bhimeswara Swamy temple at Chebrolu

Early Buddhist remnants in Andhra Pradesh are continuing to draw art historians and archaeologists around the world.

The architectural splendour of the Amaravati School of Art still found in pillars and motifs unearthed in excavations is an object of historical research in schools of art of major European and American universities.

A group of 16 men and women, among them art historians, archaeologists, conservators and research fellows from USA, UK, Thailand on Friday visited Chebrolu, one of the earliest Buddhist sites in coastal Andhra Pradesh.

The village is home to centuries-old Bhimeswara Swamy temple, which is being renovated by the Archaeology Department.

Freelance archaeologist Kadiyala Venkateswara Rao, who unearthed congregational hall pillars embellished half lotus medallions, a distinct feature of Amaravati School of Art, accompanied the visitors on a guided tour. The visitors included representatives from Thailand Tourism Bureau.

Robert Schick, Research Fellow, American Centre of Oriental Research, Jordan, who visited the village on Friday, is working on a project related to early Buddhist sites in India and South Asia. His earlier visits to the country left a lasting impression on this researcher, who has started his own project in 2011 documenting the early Buddhist sites in Andhra Pradesh.

“India has a glorious past and rich architectural history. Some of the earliest Buddhist sites were excavated and retained but there are still some sites which are yet to be unearthed. We are academic scholars who wanted to study the art in depth and explore the cultural relations between India and South Asia,’’ said Dr. Schick.

Ian Glover, from University of London, said that visit would also explore trade relations between India and Thailand during the 11th century BC.

Among the visitors was an art historian from Switzerland, Pia Conti and archaeologists from Poland.

The visitors were taken aback by the sheer neglect shown in preserving valuable artefacts and Buddhist remnants.

The sight of pillars made of white marble with intricate designs lying on the road amid rubble and dust clearly disturbed the visitors. “The pillars could have been preserved in museums rather being left to wither away,” said a visitor.

A group of archaeologists from UK, USA and Thailand visit Chebrolu

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