Amaravati (Lat. 160 34’ N, Long. 800 17’E) is situated on the right bank of the river Krishna at a distance of 35 km north of the railway station of Guntur town. It is also a center of pilgrimage, known as Amareswaram.
The Amaravati school of art occupies a pre-eminent position in the history of Indian Art. With its beginning in 3rd century BC the Amaravati unfolds its chapters through the galaxy of sculptural wealth that once adorned the Mahachaitya the majestic monument of the Buddhists situated here with its history extending over a period of a millennium and a half.
In the key gallery selected examples of the art traditions of Amaravati are displayed. The lotus and the purnakumbha motifs are typical of Amaravati Art expressing auspiciousness and abundance. The two drum slabs depicting the Stupas, in bas relief give a fair idea of the structure. Buddha in these panels during the early period is represented symbolically in the form of ‘Svastika’ mark on a cushioned seat over a throne (Vajrasana) under the Bodhi tree in one case and a Flaming pillar (agni skanda) in another case. Over the dome are depicted the Jatakas in low relief. The standing Buddha secured from Gummadidurru is datable to eight century AD.
In second gallery one can find the life size standing image of Buddha in super human form with marks of great man (Maha Purusha Lakshana). The round panel over a cross bar depicting the episode of Rahula’s presentation to the Buddha by his father king Suddhodana is another unique piece in narration, composition and carving. Besides a few drum slabs and dome slabs depicting the worship of Stupa, Triratna, animal rows and minor antiquities like coins and beads are interesting.
The exhibits in third gallery comprises a few sculptures of 2nd cent. BC including an Yakshi of Bharhut tradition, a stele with labeled panels, and a fragmentary pillar edict of Asoka. Images of Buddha from Alluru, Dharma Chakra from Lingaraja Palli, Bodhistvas, a dome slab depicting the jeweles of the Buddhist order viz. The Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha in a panel represented by a Bodhi Tree, Dharma Chakra and the Stupa worshiped by the devotees are noteworthy. The couple in round in the central showcase is a masterpiece of Amaravati Art, with full of vigour and vitality, of the Satavahana period.
The full size ornate bull (nandisvara) of the Satavahana period in round is an attractive piece of art picked up from the local Amaresvara temple. The garland and bearers of a copingstone, the images of Vajrayana period, and a Jaina Tirthankara of medieval times are quite interesting in this gallery.
In the courtyard, part from the model of Stupa and a part of reconstructed railing, Gautama Sddhartha’s departure from his palace. Return of the horse Kanthaka, episode of Nalagiri the royal elephant of Ajaatasatru, worship of Buddha (feet) by the lady devotees, Jataka panels of Mandhata, Chaddhanta, Vessantara and Losaka are a few attractive panels here.
Earlier forms of Ganesa and Ganesani among the Yakshaganas carrying the garland. Lakshmi in earlier period and the panel showing division of the relics of Lord Buddha by the disputing princes on the coping of the railing, are a few notable pieces of art.
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