Andhra was a bastion of Buddhism for at least a thousand years. It was a centre of learning and Buddhism spread out to Sri Lanka and South East Asia through its ports. The stupas and monasteries provided the architectural models for the more famous Buddhist shrines in the rest of the world like the famous Borobodur in Indonesia. The Buddhist phase lasted for nearly a thousand years till the rise of Shaivism in the 7th century CE obliterated Buddhism from this region. It is sad that while these places attract visitors from all over the Buddhist world, Indians are not aware of the existence of these places.In this series, I am retracing the footsteps of those distant ancestors of mine.Read More
What Jawaharlal Nehru had said about India is equally applicable to my hometown, Visakhapatnam, better known as Vizag. It is a young city with a history that goes back to the prehistoric period. In this series, I shall revisit the footprints left on the sands of time in and around Vizag by the early Buddhists.
I shall start at Thotlakonda, a 130 metre high hillock overlooking the famed beaches of Vizag. The Buddhist settlement was accidentally discovered in 1988 by Naval personnel were carrying out an aerial survey for setting up some facility.Read More
The Bala Balaji temple is a standing testimony to the devotion and perseverance of a humble coconut vendor called Ramaswami. Every year, he used to visit Tirupati and place a share of his annual income at the feet of Lord Venkateswara as his offering. In 1966, the priests there refused to place the offerings at the feet of the idol and understandably, Ramaswamy was upset thinking that the rejection was by the Lord himself.
That night, Lord Balaji appeared in Ramaswamy’s dream and told him to build a shrine in his hometown itself. Ramaswamy installed framed photographs of Lord Venkateswara and his consort Padmavati in his shop. He would feed the people who visited his shrine without charging any money. In course of time, the temple attracted hundreds of devotees and Ramaswamy had sufficient funds to build a temple. The construction was completed in 1991 and the idols were installed an consecrated by Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji, a famous Vaishnavite saint.Read More
As one drives along the narrow but smooth roads with lush green fields bordered by tall coconut palm trees and water canals, one could be forgiven for thinking that they are in Kerala. Welcome to Konaseema, the Kerala of Andhra Pradesh. It is the triangular patch of land where the river Godavari, the second holiest river in India, breaks up into many distributaries and merges itself in the Bay of Bengal.Read More