Nirvana is now just three hours away from Hyderabad

Nirvana is 152.4 km and three hours away from Hyderabad with one toll plaza in between.

Published: 16th January 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th January 2022 02:41 PM   |  A+A-

Nirvana is 152.4 km and three hours away from Hyderabad with one toll plaza in between. And no, it’s not about a new biryani joint that we are talking about, but a new 274-acre campus which is all for, of, and about Lord Gautama Buddha. It opened to the public in December last year. Amidst the rising number of Omicron cases and the allied chaos, Buddhavanam beckons us with the Buddhist credo that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. It’s a choice between crowds, traffic snarls and pollution in the city versus the gorgeous Nallamalla forests, quartzite rocks, the gushing waters of the River Krishna and the serenity of the Buddhist vibration, along with a profound journey of his life.

Located on the National Highway 565 connecting the Telugu states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, the Rs 65-crore Buddhavanam project is the new baby of the Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation on the banks of the Krishna. Nagarjuna Sagar is already a popular tourist destination because of the namesake dam built 54 years ago. The dam itself was named after Nagarjuna, a south Indian master of Mahayana Buddhism who lived in the second century, who is believed to have been responsible for the Buddhist activity in the area. Inscriptions of the Ikshvaku dynasty of the fourth century cite the site as the location of many Buddhist universities and monasteries, attracting students from as far as China, Gandhara, Bengal and Sri Lanka.

“Buddhavanam reinstates the glory of Buddhism with world-class infrastructure to attract domestic and foreign tourists from the Southeast Asian countries. It has been a labour of love of five years to build this project,” says Mallepally Laxmaiah, the officer on special duty for the project.

Centre of attraction

It’s love at first sight when you spot the Maha Stupa. Its white dome with golden lotus petals and stone walls is a replica of the original 1,700-year-old Amaravati Stupa in its dimensions, shape, and design. Do spend time walking around the dome to marvel at the Pancha Dhyana Buddhas on four sides and four cardinal directions. These wall panels are from Nelakondapalli, another town in the neighbourhood with a Buddhist connection. Archaeologist and Buddhist expert E Shivanagi Reddy shows around the 133 sandstone panels, including one of Father of Indian Constitution Dr BR Ambedkar embracing Buddhism. Over 1,200 artisans from Allagadda in Andhra Pradesh have been working relentlessly for the last five years to create the artwork at Buddhavanam.

Among the breathtaking beauties on the premises are the richly engraved wooden doors with fully blossomed lotuses symbolising pragna, or wisdom. The dome houses a Buddhist Heritage Museum, an amphitheatre and an interpretation centre beside a 28-foot stone stupa of Buddha in dhyana mudra. Meditation The main dome is as big as a college auditorium with cushioned ground seating all around. The circular space has a painted ceiling depicting the blue skies and in the middle are four Buddha stupas facing four directions and letting you soak in his meditative stance from any end of the room. Bathed in a golden light and darkness all around to aid meditation, the dome has an unparalleled vibration that intuitively calms down, a state that almost seems inexplicable. That's the Buddhist vibration for you.

The exit view from across the ayaka platform (a pavilion one that houses the milestones of Buddha’s life) is equally dramatic. The major events from the life of Siddhartha Gautama such as Janana (the birth of Siddhartha), Mahabhinishkramana (the great departure of Siddhartha), Samyaksambodhi (enlightenment of Siddhartha Gautama), Dharmachakrapravarthana (the first sermon of the Buddha) and the Mahaparinirvana (the great extinction of the Buddha) cast in bronze are displayed in the segment. A backlit replica of the 27-foot Avukana Buddha statue donated by the government of Sri Lanka and the Dhamma Bell about 300 metres away is the most breathtaking sight of the Buddhavanam.

Architect Kanthibabu, who worked along with architects Sundeep Kamle from Nagpur and Uppal Ghosh from Mumbai, says, “Buddhavanam is the first in India to house thematic segments depicting the major events from the life of Gautama and his previous birth stories. The Jataka Park, a five-minute walk from the Maha Stupa, displays Jataka tales, revealing the previous births of Siddhartha symbolically visualising the six perfections, (shat parimitas of a Bodhisattva). The stories depicted on the panels are selected from the famous Buddhist sites of India and Burma, Borobudur and China with special focus on both the Telugu states.” Nirvana is now in the neighbourhood.

Coming soon

✥ Dhyanavanam (meditation park)
✥ Stupavanam (miniature stupa park) segment will showcases the various Buddhist stupas of India and South–East Asian countries representing regional styles of Buddhist architecture. Replicas of stupas from some of the famous Buddhist sites such as Karla Stupa (Maharashtra, India), Ajanta Stupa (Maharashtra, India), Sanchi Stupa (Madhya Pradesh, India), Dhamek Stupa, Sukhothai Historical Park, Thailand will come up.
✥ Popular monasteries in South East Asian countries will set up their chapter here. Other things that will come up are a Buddhist university, research library, hospital with Tibetan herbal medicine, Buddhist crafts village, and cottages to stay in. For now, visitors can stay at the TSTDC resort in Vijay Vihar, three km from here.


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