Thotlakonda Buddhist Complex is situated on a hill near Bheemunipatnam. It is present in Andhra Pradesh and is about 15 kilometers from Visakhapatnam. The name Thotlakonda is a Telugu name. It is derived from the presence of a number of rock-cut cisterns hewn into the bedrock of the hillock. It literally means ‘Hill with stone wells‘. This is because of its stone wells that collected water for Buddhists.
Thotlakonda is located at a height of 128 meters on a hilltop. It is present near the village Mangamaripeta. The Indian Navy discovered this place. They were on an aerial survey for setting up a Naval Base.
What is the history of Thotlakonda?
- The Indian Navy discovered Thotlakonda. They were on an aerial survey for setting up a Naval Base.
- During 1988 – 1993, after its discovery, major excavations have been conducted by the Andhra Pradesh State Archaeology Department.
- The excavations led to an establishment of the existence of a Hinayana Buddhist complex which flourished 2000 years ago.
- The excavations reveal foreign trade with its lead and Roman silver coins.
- Terracotta tiles, miniature stupa models in stone, stucco decorative pieces, sculptured panels, and Buddha footprints were also found.
- This complex was active between the year 200 BC and 200 AD.
- Thotlakonda might have accommodated more than 100 bhikkhus.
- It declined by the end of the 3rd century.
What is the architecture of Thotlakonda?
- Thotlakonda complex is beautiful with magnificent structural design.
- There are meditation halls. It protects Monks from outside disturbances.
- There are stupas at the center of the meditation halls.
- The layout of the kitchen and resting place for Monks are simple.
- Monks visiting this Buddhist school from far places came through the sea route. They used to stay here for months and year before completing their study.
- There are stones that mark the direction of Sunrise and sunset.
- Thotlakonda Complex has various Stupas, Viharas, and Chaityas.
- There are 12 tubs. These store drinking water. Out of them, four are available within the complex and others were a little outside of the area.
- The eagle-shaped hilltop gives a panoramic view of the sea and the curved coastline.
How to reach this place?
Train: Take a train to Vizag. The nearest station is Vizag. This place is at a distance of 22 Kms from Vizag Railway Station.
Air: The nearest airport is Vishakhapatnam. It is 35Kms away from here.