MONUMENTS IN WEST GODAVARI

 

Monument No: 1

Monument Name: MOUNDS CONTAINING BUDDHIST REMAINS

Location: Arugolanu

Brief History:
It contains the following three important structures and also some loose sculptures.

It contains the following three important structures and also some loose sculptures.

MUD FORT:
It is square on plan, having mud fortifications which is in the form of a high bund with intermediary openings here and there at intervals. An interesting structure of early origin, built much earlier than the Warangal Fort, though similar in construction.

CHINNA LANJA DIBBA:
It is a circular mound, resembling a stupa, probably made up of earth with brick veneering externally.

PEDDA LANJA DIBBA:
Situated far away from the village. It is a solitary mound, oblong in shape, having its longer axis in north south orientation. The mound is made up of gravel having a brick veneering. One can discern remains of lime plaster on the top of the mound suggesting that the brick veneering was lime plastered earlier.

SCULPTURES ON THE TANK BUND: On the Western side of the fort on the tank bund, the following loose sculptures are kept in the shed. They include
(i) Chamunda
(ii) Kartikeya and his consort Devasena in red sand stone
(iii) Chandesa
(iv) A stone chhattra/Umbrella of a Buddhist stupa made of black basalt and
(v) Some unidentifiable broken pieces of sculptures. There is a Siva linga situated in the town.

Monument No: 2

Monument Name: MOUNDS LOCALLY KNOWN AS BHIMALINGADIBBA

Location: Denduluru

Brief History:
It is a mound on which there is a Siva linga and infront of it is a nandi facing west. The lingam is of trap stone whereas the nandi is made of red sand stone. The dibba contains brick-bats of red sand stone probably representing the ruined Siva temple that existed on it. At present there are no indications to show that this was a Buddhist mound.

Monument No: 3

Monument Name: BUDDHIST MONUMENTS-
(1) ROCK-CUT TEMPLE,
(2) LARGE MONASTERY,
(3) SMALL MONASTERY,
(4) BRICK CHAITYA,
(5) RUINED MANDAPA,
(6) STONE BUILT STUPA AND
(7) LARGE GROUP OF STUPAS

Location: Guntupalle

Brief History:
ROCK-CUT CAVE: It is a rock-cut Chaitya. It, datable 3rd to 2nd century BC.. On plan the temple is circular and faces southeast. In the center, occupying about one half of the entire chamber is a large rock-cut model of a stupa. Around this stupa there is a small circumambulatory passage. There is a socket hole cut into the crown of the dome. One of the most remarkable features of this shrine is its vaulted roof. This is domed and ribbed in imitation of a wooden structure, the curved stone ribs

all meeting in the center like the frame work of a wooden umbrella. Another feature of interest is the rock-cut horse show-shaped façade of the temple, in which may be noticed the projecting ends of the little rafters, which are, represented as supporting the curved bargeboard of the gable. These rafters are ornamental and are in imitation of such structures in timber.

LARGE MONASTERY:
This monastery, located at a short distance to the north east of the Buddhist rock-cut (Dharmalingesvara) temple, and excavated into the sandstone cliff, has a fairly large rock-cut series of cells or quarters for Buddhist monks to reside in them. There is a narrow terrace in front of it and a verandah formed by cutting the overhanging rock above, sheltering the cells from sub and rain. The façade of the monastery had one main entrance in the center flanked by two little windows and two entrances into the side wings. Both doorways and windows are decorated with little horseshoe shaped gabbles of the usual early Buddhist type, with simulated wooden fanlights or screens, above the semi-circular door and window frames. The narrow entrances and the simplicity of the design, indicate that the monastery is a very early one. No carvings or sculptural decorations of any kind appear on or in this structure. Many of the pillars and supporting walls within have crumbled away and some of the walls have accidentally been cut through or alarmingly reduced in thickness. A few cells of the central portion of the monastery have somewhat elaborate and deep channel cut into their floor connected to a large natural fissure at the back of the structure for draining the rainwater. There are four small excavations to the right or northeastern side of this monastery, which were abandoned soon after the work was commenced. The large monastery also planned and executed somewhat in haphazard manner.

SMALL MONASTERY:
It is a rock-cut vihara (monastry) located higher up the hill to the north of the large monastery. It is smaller in dimension and hopelessly ruined. It contains the remains of five small cells, which are crudely excavated, and some are unfinished. Its façade has crumbled away and fallen, but in some places may be seen the remains of projecting horseshoe shaped gables which once, adorned the doors and windows.

LARGE GROUP OF STUPAS:
These are votive stupas and more than 60 in number. They are located higher up the hill to the southeast of brick chaitya and ruined mandapa and are situated on three terraces. They belong to various ages and vary considerably in size and nature of construction. These, built of stone blocks or bricks, are set up on low, circular stone-paved or brick basements and are of very primitive construction. Some have no platform. Many of them are extant up to drum portion only and their domes are missing. Among them one is a small apsidal chaitya griha and the other at the eastern extreme over an elevated terrace approached by long flight of steps is a circular brick chaitya with a stupa at the center veneered with crescentic slabs of greenish marble.

THE STONE STUPA:
It forming one of the large group of stupas, was excavated by Alexander Rea. It, datable to 2nd century BC is veneered with cut-stone blocks and has an inner core of earth and stones. A portion of its dome was destroyed by treasure trovers. It is a bare hemispherical dome of 4.88 mt in dia meter and of 2.62 mt in height resting on a drum or circular raised basement of 5.65mt in dia meter and of 1.53 mt in height, which originally stood on a broad stone-paved terrace which also contains other votive stupas. From the debris Mr. Rea found the tree and an umbrella that together once crowned the stupa, a relic stone casket containing corroded portion of a small round copper vessel, a large white crystal hexagonal bead and a miniature gold alms bowl with two tiny gold beads and a crudely carved lime stone figure of Buddha.

THE RUINED MANDAPA:
It is a ruined structure situated close to the east of the brick chaitya and is represented by a few standing broken stumps of pillars and pillar bases with remains of the shafts lying beside them. These show that it was once a large pillared hall of onsiderable size, which served as an assembly for the monks. It is datable to 2nd ntury BC. According to Alexander Rea, it probably composed of 24 stone pillars standing in six rows of four each, covering an area measuring 56 feet by 34 feet with entrance porches on its east and west sides. Clearance in front of this stone mandapa, a little southwards of it, revealed the existence of an extensive pillared mandapa, which bear inscribed donatory records on its pillars ranging in date from 1st to 5th centuries AD

THE BRICK CHAITYA:
At the north western corner of the terrace and closer to the stone pillared hall, partly exposed by Rea, is a massive unit of a brick apsidal Chaitya (no.1). The brick walls are preserved to almost roof level, the vault had terracotta finials. The main entrance faces southwest. It has a long apsidal ending back; measuring inside 17.60 m. in length and 4.42m. in breadth. The wall is preserved to a height of 1.32 cm. With an exceptionally nice basement moulding of stuccoed brick. A platform if built at the apse for placement of the massive image of Buddha. Flights of steps were provided to reach this platform for circumambulation around the apsidal back. Mr. Rea found even the springing of the semi-circular brick arch spanning the doorway and so this unit must have been in a good condition till recent times. The walls as preserved now rise to a height of 4.58m. The doorjambs are semi-octagonal on plan, and are carried up as pilaster to the springing arch. On each side was a niche for a figure of Buddha or Bodhisattva. The plinth mouldings are highly ornate (Rail-pattern and screen), and recall to mind the rock-cut examples of Nasik and Karle. They have been finished in stucco and perhaps coloured and painted too. The Buddhist rail ornament in front portion, built of moulded bricks, possessed in their inner spaces little square-headed recesses (gudu) for keeping the lamps. In fact Mr. Rea reported from the excavations numerous pottery lamps.

d. Buddhist monuments, Guntupalli : i) Circular Brick Chaitya griha: The circular brick- built chaitya griha on an elevated rectangular terrace at the eastern extreme of the hill. The terrace is approached by a long flight of stone steps. An inscription datable to the second century B.C. mentions an Upasika who donated stone steps leading to the chaitya griha. This brick built circular chaitya griha remains presently up to a height of 80 cm only. The outer wall externally measures 11 mts. In dia with a decorative adhistana mouldings like an upana (22cm) jagati and prati (72 cm). The thickness of the circular wall measures 2.14 mtrs. The porch in front measures 2.14 x 2.05 mtrs internally and leads to a narrow passage which gives access to the sanctum. In the centre of the circular chamber a votive stupa was constructed with cylindrical drum with a projected band at the base and a low parapet at the top. It measures 1.22 mts high. The space in between stupa and the wall measures 1.38 mtr wide which served as a pradaksinapatha. The floor was laid with sand - stone slabs edging the western face of the stupa and facing the passage free - standing images of Buddha were installed. A Similar set of three standing images side - by - side were also installed within the porch, edging the southern wall.

ii) Viharas (Monastries) : The rock - cut viharas are simple rectangular halls with a few smaller cells either at the back wall or side wall with an arched façade. The façade of the Vihara cell has one main entrance in the centre flanked by two little windows and two entrances into horse shoe shaped gabled arch. The cells are provided with either rock - cut seat with backrest or bed with a pillow. These serves as living rooms for monks.These cells excavated into the core of the rock are disposed in a very hapazard manner. No co-ordinated plan was followed in the arrangement of the cells.

iii) Rock - cut temple: It is a rock - cut vritta - chaitya with a circular monolithic stupa at the centre, is situated at the southern entrance of the hill. The remarkable feature of this shrine is the domical ceiling with carved ribs, converging at the apex, which resembles a wood hut (kuta) or an umbrella frame. The chatra is a separated stone fitted to the tenon of the rock - cut yasti. This chaitya is known as Dharmalingesvara.

iv) A bigger Mandapa with inscribed limestone pillars : Clearance infornt of the stone mandapa and a little south wards of it but close west of the structural stupas revealed the existence of an extensive pillared mandapa. The pillars possess tetragonal shafts about four - and - half metres high with lotus medallions marking the octogonal sections (Kattu) , at the middle. Most of them contained donatary records in 1st Century A.D. Brahmi characters. These donations were caused by several grhapatis and grhinis hailing from several parts of the country. This pillared hall was in good state for several centuries as the inscribed records on the pillars ranged in date from 1st to 5th century A.D.

v) Structural stupas in stone : Perched on a semi - flattish terrace measuring 183 x 46 m is a complex of structural stupas of brick out of cut - khondalite stone blocks. The dome part was encased with crescentic slabs, bearing simple décor on their exterior face.

Monument No: 4

Monument Name: THE MOUNDS OF PEDAVEGI:
DIBBA NO.1,
DIBBA NO.2,
DIBBA NO.3,
DIBBA NO.4,
DIBBA NO.5

Location: Pedavegi

Brief History:
The ancient city of Vengipura, now a sprawling village called Pedavegi is 12km north of Eluru town. Vengipura is a renowned capital of the early dynasties like Salankayana, Vishnukundin and Eastern Chalukyas that ruled Andhra Desa from the middle of 4th century AD to 11th century AD. The excavation conducted at Dhanamdibba site, literally 'mound of wealth' revealed two phases of cultural activity, both assignable to the early historical period.

Phase I A:
Salankayana (circa 4th to 5th century AD ) a massive structure complex of brick was exposed in the center of the mound, which is identified as stupa with an entrance porch towards east. The basal plan at the center of the dome is squarish, an measured 10.70 mtr. on the top. It resembles the chaitya of Ghantasala. A close circumambulatory passage, 45 cm wide was provided around the dome, where as the outer pradakshina patha of 2.40 mtr. wide vent round the drum. The dome exterior appears to have been originally encased with sculptured lime stone slabs and moulded lime work but the drum appears plain. The extent height of the dome is 1.20 mtr. While its diameter is 10.70 mtr.

The associated finds include, apart from pottery, a merge quantity of decorative Srivatsa, a Nandi in bar-relief panel, beads, ear ornaments and dice etc., The stupa complex appears to be the work of the Salankayanas, possibly Nandivarman-II (400-300), who according to a pillar inscription from nearby Guntapalli caves is reported to have caused certain major donations to the Buddhist viharas while ruling from victorious city of Pedavegi inspite of his being a parama bhagavatha and devoted to Chitra ratha svamin. A Brahmi inscription on an octagonal mandapa pillar reveals the existence of a monastery aligned to the Aparasaila sect at this place. Another unique find is an oval-shaped locket (intaglio) measuring 2 X 2 X 6 mtr made out of transparent carnelian stone overwhich a female deity is carved, possibly a nagara devatha-a goddess presiding over the city.

PHASE I B:
Vishnukundin (circa 5th to 6th centuries AD) The occupants of this period built Brahmanical temples out of soft red sandstone. The pottery of the earlier phase continued but other notable finds of this period are copper coins of the Vishnukundins, architectural and sculptured components like a life size Gajamukha of a Hari-Hara image etc. other minor antiquities from the digs include a lime stone plaque depicting Siva-Parvati in Sukhasana, two unique Vinayakas of baked plaque indicating the cult of Dantamukha svamin during 5th century AD. A terracotta figurine of a goddess with a leonine face. Other figures in stone include plaques in low relief depicting Mahishamardhini, Srivatsa, Sakti, Viras. These impressive religious objects thrown light on the worship of Siva, Sakti and related cults during the pre-Chalukyan period.

Monument No: 5

Monument Name: ANCIENT MOUNDS

Location: Pedavegi

Brief History:
There are five mounds.




Monument No: 6

Monument Name: THE CAVES AND STRUCTURAL STUPA OF ARCHAEOLOGICAL INTEREST ON DHARMALINGESVARASVAMI HILL

Location: Jilakarragudem(Hamlet of Guntupalle)

Brief History:
There are five mounds.