Amaravathi Stupa

Telangana & Andhra Pradesh

This historic site was the earliest centre of Buddhism in southern India, with the nation's biggest stupa, 27m high and 49m across, constructed in the 3rd century BC. All that remains now are its circular base and a few stone slabs, but the neighbouring museum has a model and some intricate marble carvings depicting the Buddha's life. Today it's set in park-like surrounds; look out for hundreds of flying foxes, which shelter in the trees here during the day.

Amaravathi flourished as a capital of the Satavahana kingdom, which ruled from Andhra across the Deccan for four or five centuries, becoming a fountainhead of Buddhist art. A section of reconstructed stone railing gives you an idea of the stupa’s massive scale.

Many of Amaravathi’s best sculptures are in London’s British Museum and Chennai’s Government Museum.

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