Amaravati is ours

Some of the artefacts on display at the London Museum. —Photo: By Arrangement

Some of the artefacts on display at the London Museum. —Photo: By Arrangement

The Hindu
August 14, 2015 10:54 IST
P. SUJATHA VARMA

The Andhra Pradesh government’s plan to attract world tourists to Amaravati, the new capital area, by showcasing its robust Buddhist heritage has sparked hope, setting off a clamour among various sections to bring back its treasured artefacts, currently on display at a gallery in London Museum.

Josephe Hotung Gallery in the British Museum displays masterpieces of Buddhist sculptures from Amaravati.

A stunning collection of over 120 pieces depicting the famed Amravati sculptures are on display after over three decades of oblivion in the basement of the museum. Excavated by the British almost 140 years ago, the sculptures were shipped to the U.K. from Madras in 1859.

‘Monastery Boulevard’

With the A.P. government spelling out its latest plan to set up a ‘Monastery Boulevard’ in Amaravati to enable Buddhists from across the world build monasteries on the lines of Bodh Gaya in Bihar, people here feel that it’s time Andhra Pradesh staked claim to the Amaravati relics that reflect its hoary past.

Veeranjaneyulu Jasti, chairman, Amaravati Development Authority, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has urged the Centre to do the needful to bring back the sculptures. He says half of the Hotung Gallery has been devoted to Chinese bronzes, jades, paintings, ceramics and Buddhist sculptures, while the second half has Amaravati structures which include “the greatest collection of Indian religious sculptures outside the sub-continent.”

A copy of Mr. Veeranjaneyulu’s letter has been forwarded to the Director-General, Archaeological Survey of India.

A.P. Deputy Speaker Mandali Buddha Prasad, has used every platform to drive home the point that not enough is being done by successive governments to preserve the rich culture of Andhra Pradesh. A reference of the London Museum, which showcases A.P. heritage, often finds place in his public speeches.

He feels that since the Amaravati relics are safe and are well taken care of by the British, they should be left undisturbed. “Moreover, if showcased from that platform, the sculptures will be accessible to viewers from across the world.

“We would do well to focus on the enormous wealth of artefacts that would come into our share after the State bifurcation,” he says. E. Siva Nagireddy, who has worked with the Department of Archaeology and Museums in undivided Andhra Pradesh, echoes similar views:

“We should feel happy about the great care that goes into the maintenance of these precious artefacts. From there, they find wider range of visibility and so we should leave them untouched,” he says.

Centre should do
the needful
Veeranjaneyulu jasti,
Chairman,
Amaravati Development Authority
State plans to attract world tourists to new capital region

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