This Buddhist heritage theme park coming up near Hyderabad is a must-visit
About 165 km from Hyderabad towards Nalgonda district is Nagarjuna Sagar, one of the most popular getaways from the Telangana capital. For a long time now, the tourist attractions in this place are the dam, boating in the lake, and the Nagarjuna Konda island. The place is now getting a makeover, thanks to an upcoming Buddhist heritage theme park named Buddhavanam, which is sure to leave tourists awestruck. The Telangana Tourism Development Corporation plans to inaugurate the park soon.
Buddhavanam promises to be a one-stop destination for anyone interested in learning about the life and teachings of Buddha. Offering a peaceful time, the heritage park shows glimpses from the life of Buddha, such as the events that led to the path of enlightenment for him and others, through various carvings and bronze statues placed at strategic viewpoints.
Buddavanam, which is also known as Sriparvata Arama, is being built on 274 acres of land in the Nagarjuna Sagar constituency of Nalgonda district, on the left bank of Krishna river. Started in 2003, the project is bankrolled by the state and Union governments, and is being developed at a cost of Rs 67 crore under the leadership of Mallepally Laxmaiah, Special officer of Buddhavanam project.
Buddhavanam was chosen to be constructed in this place due to its historical significance. Archaeological evidence found here since 1927 – Buddhist structures like monasteries, shrines and stupas – reveals that this place was rich in Buddhist history. It is also known that Acharya Nagarjuna, a Buddhist scholar, spent his last days on the hill named Nagarjuna Konda.
The park’s design
Buddhavanam is divided into eight segments, symbolically representing the Astangamarga propounded by Buddha. The segments are named Buddhacharithavanam, Jataka Park, Dhyanavanam, Stupa Park, Acharya Nagarjuna International Centre for Higher Buddhist Learning, Krishna Valley Park, a segment representing Buddhism in Telugu states, and a Mahastupa, according to Buddhavanam project officials.
While the rest of the segments are ready, the Acharya Nagarjuna International Centre for Higher Buddhist Learning, Krishna Valley and Buddhism in Telugu states are still being contemplated.
As of now, the Mahastupa, which is a replica of the Amaravati stupa in design, size and shape, remains literally the centre of attraction. The stupa can easily accommodate hundreds of people.
As one steps into the dome-shaped structure, the 360-degree view is jaw-dropping.The interior of the Mahastupa is designed in such a way that you feel that you are under the open sky. According to Buddhavanam officials, in order to achieve this look, aluminium sheets were specially painted using German technology. For the best experience, it is recommended that you step into the dome with your eyes closed and open them once you are completely inside.
The silence inside the dome makes it one of the best places to meditate. The exterior of the dome looks amazing during sunset.
For heritage lovers who love to go on morning walks, Jataka Park is the ideal spot. Walking through the maze-like path, one can see huge carvings from Jatakas, popular stories of the former lives of Buddha. These stories are picked from famous Buddhist sites across India and various other places like Myanmar, Borobudur in Indonesia, and China.
There are 13 national and international Buddhist miniature stupas exhibited at Buddhavanam, which give you a glimpse of the various regional architectural styles.
Miniature replica of Punjab's Manikyala Stupa
Miniature replica of Uttar Pradesh's Samath Stupa
When Buddhavanam was under construction, the Dalai Lama visited the site in 2006 and planted a Bodhi tree that he brought from Bodh Gaya, which remains a special attraction with its unusually long-stemmed leaves.