Amaravathi Stupa information
Amaravathi, 43km west of Vijayawada, was the earliest centre of Buddhism in the southern half of India. India’s biggest stupa, measuring 27m high and 49m across, was constructed here in the 3rd century BC, when emperor Ashoka sent monks south to spread Buddhist teaching. All that remains of the stupa today are the big circular base and some of the surrounding stones - the great marble-surfaced, hemispherical dome is gone.
Amaravathi continued to flourish after Ashoka's time as a capital of the Satavahana kingdom which ruled from Andhra across the Deccan for the following four or five centuries, becoming the fountainhead of Buddhist art in South India. The nearby museum has a model of the stupa, a copy of a relic casket found in it, and some of the intricate stone sculpture with which the Satavahanas covered and surrounded it, including part of a gateway which gives you an idea of the stupa’s massive scale. It’s worth the trip, but many of Amaravathi’s best sculptures are in London’s British Museum and Chennai’s Government Museum.