If you travel 170km southeast of Hyderabad and then take a 45-boat ride over the Nagarjuna Sagar reservoir on the Krishna river, you will discover the island of Nagarjunakonda, littered with the remnants of wonderful Buddhist structures. Nagarjunakonda was visited by seventh century AD Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsang in 640 AD.
Before the construction of Nagarjuna Sagar Dam in 1960, Nagarjunakonda, which is spread over an area of 144-acre, was the top of a hill. In order to save several Buddhist structures such as stupa, chaitya, viharas that ran the risk of being submerged due to creation of Nagarjuna Sagar dam they were reassembled on this hill.
One of the Buddhism’s most visited sites, Nagarjunakonda is named after famous Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna, who is credited to have introduced Buddhism to Andhra Pradesh in the 2nd century AD. Tradition has it that it was at Nagarjunakonda or Nagarjuna’s hill where, Nagarjuna, an authority on the Mahayana form of Buddhism, propounded the world famous Buddhist philosophy of Sunyata (the Void). A contemporary of Kanishka, Nagarjuna wrote Madhyamika Karika which forms the basic text of the Madhyamika (Intermediate), one of the two philosophical schools of Mahayana Buddhism, other being Yogacharya.
Places of interest in Nagarjunakonda
The most striking structure in Nagarjunakonda is the Mahastupa which is said to contain a bone relic the Buddha. In its current shape, the stupa reaches a height of 18 meters and has a diameter of 32.3 meters. It is the most massive structure in Nagarjunakonda.
How to reach Nagarjunakonda
Located in the middle Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, Nagarjunakonda is accessible only by waterways.
By Rail – though Macherla, 20 km from Nagarjuna Sagar Dam is the nearest railhead, the nearest major railway station is at Guntur, which is 36 kilometers away from Nagarjunakonda.
By Air: Nearest airports are Hyderabad and Vijaywada airports which are approximately located 180 km and 170 km respectively.
Best Time to visit Nagarjunakonda
Anytime is good time to visit the Nagarjunakonda.