Buddhism came to the region of Telangana, even when the ‘Enlightened One’ was alive. It flourished and spread under the patronage of the Ikshavaku dynasty who were ardent Buddhist followers. Most of the marvelous Buddhist structures were built during this period. Buddhism held sway in this region for many centuries. Many Buddhist sites were discovered across Telangana, which divulged a wealth of artifacts that speak volumes of the ancient Buddhist culture.
Buddha Statue-Hussain Sagar Lake – The 350 ton monolithic statue of Buddha, measuring 18 mts tall rises from the placid waters of the picturesque Hussain Sagar Lake in Hyderabad, is a reverent memorial to the golden period of Buddhism in Telangana. This monumental statue is a humble tribute which the present generation pays to the living memory of the Buddha. Here is where you start off from the modern metropolis of Hyderabad, to visit more than 4 significant Buddhist sites of Telangana.
Nagarjunakonda – The exotic island of Nagarjunakonda, 150 km from Hyderabad, emerged out of the artificial lake which was formed after construction of the Nagarjun-asagar dam. Before submersion, evidence was found here of early settlements from the Stone age up to Medieval times. But its most brilliant period was the century of Ikshavaku rule, beginning in the second quarter of the 3rd century AD. A great Buddhist University is said to have flourished here. Acharya Nagarjuna, considered to be one of the most important Buddhist philosophers after Gautama Buddha, is said to have lived and taught here, and hence the place came to be named after him.
Buddhist Island Museum – There is a Buddhist museum at Nagarjunakonda, which houses a number of precious artifacts, Buddhist relics and structures discovered in excavations in the valley. These remains date back to the 3rd century A.D. Carved limestone slabs, inscriptions and sculpture bring out the mastery of the Satavahanas and the Ikshavakus when Buddhism flourished here. The themes are mainly from episodes involving the Buddha, but an outstanding example of the sculpture of that age is a stunning life-like depiction of the ‘Enlightened One’ standing in the eternal stance of sublime peace. A model of the submerged valley, displayed in one of the museum galleries, transports one to another age.