In order to reach the different segments of Buddhavanam, one first needs to pass through the grand entrance plaza, which is square in plan and has eight quadrants with four openings. All the quadrants are adorned with panels depicting asthamangala (eight auspicious) symbols.
An octagonal column stands at the centre of the plaza. It carries the Dhamma Chakra (wheel of dharma), whose spokes depict different virtues. At the pillar's base are carved half-lotus medallions on all four sides.
Apart from this, food courts, parking areas and cottages have been developed as part of the Entrance Plaza.
As soon as visitors step inside the Buddhacharita Vanam, they get a sense of all the crucial moments in the life of the Buddha&ndashdepicted via different statues and structures. These include Janana (the birth of the Siddhartha at Lumbini), Mahabhinishkramana (the Great Departure), Sambodhi (Enlightenment), Dhammachakrapravartana (the Turning of the Wheel of the Dhamma) and Mahaparinirvana (The Great Extinction).
At the Buddhacharita Vanam's entrance, visitors also get to witness the Buddhapada (footprints of the Buddha) with asthamangala symbols, in addition to a bronze Dhamma Bell donated by the Sri Lankan Government, which has been erected in the middle of the segment.
According to the myth surrounding his birth, the newborn Siddhartha took seven steps before stating that this was his last birth&ndashdepicted in the Janana. While Siddhartha is shown riding Kantaka (his favourite horse) out of the palace in the Mahabhinishkramana, his awakening and metamorphosis into the Buddha is depicted in Sambodhi. The Pancha Vargiya Bhikkhus (the five seekers), Siddhartha's affiliates in the spiritual search, are shown in Dhammachakrapravartana listening to the first sermon the Buddha gave. Finally, his death is depicted in Mahaparinirvana, where Buddha is lying down with his head resting on his right hand. Scenes of Subaddha (Buddha's last disciple), monks, and locals from Kusinara&ndashnow Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh&ndashwhere the Buddha passed away, are represented on the pedestal.
Before visitors can even wrap their heads around the allure of the different figurines in the Buddhacharita Vanam, they find themselves in the mammoth shadow of the Mahastupa, i.e. the central structure of the Buddhavanam. Forty-two metres wide and twenty-one metres high, the Mahastupa was fashioned after the original Amaravati Stupa, the largest stupa in Dakshinapatha or South India, in terms of both size and design.
On top of the stupa are a vedika (outer railing), a dome, and a harmika (stone balustrade surrounding the upper portion). On its four sides, Ayaka pillars have been erected that represent the five pivotal moments in the Buddha's life.
Visitors can also visit a theatre and a museum of Buddhist heritage located on the stupa's bottom level. The museum has Buddhist artefacts and 100-year-old copies of Ajanta frescoes.
With its ceiling adorned with lotus flowers against a 25-foot-high sky background, the Mahastupa's interior is as exquisite as it can get, thus leaving the visitors in awe. Gold-coloured Panchadhyani Buddhas in sitting positions on each of the four corners have been installed at the centre.
The interior concave curvature of the circular dome structure reflects the sky effect from the surrounding environment. The interior of the ceiling was created using 528 trapezoid-shaped aluminium panels that were digitally printed with a sky pattern to mirror the sky and its ever-changing colour.
The trapezoidal panels, each unique and up to 2.5 metres in size were explicitly created to complement the overall design of the Mahastupa. Each was positioned according to precise coordinates and had a different size depending on where it was. Additionally, a three-dimensional angle for accurate pattern guidance was chosen and put into practice. The German Technology employed in developing and producing the lotus petals and sky panels is the first of its kind in use today.
With its grandeur and artistry, the Mahastupa and its inner part have become a much-favourite segment among tourists since the opening of Buddhavanam.
If your world revolves around listening to and telling stories&ndashespecially folktales&ndashthen the Jataka Vanam is for you, for it brims with tales from the Buddha's previous lives.
The dasaparamita (ten perfections) are practised by a Bodhisattva throughout several lives before he is finally born as Siddhartha, achieves enlightenment, and transforms into the Buddha. Five hundred forty-seven jatakas (stories) at the Jataka Vanam depict these accounts of the Bodhisattva's prior births. The Buddha himself referred to the jatakas when presenting sermons at Shravasti, Vaishali, Rajgir, and other locations.
The Jatakas depicted in the park include Dipankara, Kattahari, Matakabatta, Nalapana, Vanarindha, Rsya Sringa, Sasa, Ahigundika, Dighitkosala, Kalinga, Ghata Panditha, Kunala, Kakati, Mahapaduma, Maha Hamsa, Sibi, Matanga, Sankhapala, Mahasuttasoma, Vidurapanditha, Nigrodhamiga, Chaddanta, Kurma Avadana, Mandhata, Mahakapi, Champeya, Syama, Maha Ummagga, Ashwamukhi, Dasaratha, Kavikumara, Losaka, Matsya, Kurungamirga, Mahisa, Timingala, Hasti, Simhalavadana and Vessantara.
Developed with the motive of introducing tourists to the different stupas in India and around the world, the Stupa Vanam houses many replica stupas, all milky-white in colour.
The stupas&ndashmainly from South-East Asian and Indian Buddhist locations&ndashhave been developed from the design of the ancient Indian grave mounds that impacted the domes in West Asia.
The copies of stupas from diverse regions of India, including Sanchi (Madhya Pradesh), Sarnath (Uttar Pradesh), and Ajanta and Karle (Maharashtra), have been erected. For the advantage of the visitors, replicas of the stupas from Topdara (Afghanistan), Mirpur Khas (Pakistan), Anuradhapura (Sri Lanka), Phra Pathom Chedi (Thailand), Boudhanath (Nepal), Shwedagon (Myanmar), among others are constructed in their native architectural styles.
For the benefit of those who like to meditate and delve deep into their consciousness, this area has been developed and classified as Dhyana Vanam (meditation park). It has a calm and serene atmosphere and an appropriate landscape.
A 27 ft high replica of the original granite Buddha statue, located in Avukana village in Sri Lanka and carved during the reign of king Dhatusena (5th century AD), has been donated by the Ministry of Culture and Buddha Sasana, the government of Sri Lanka.
The statue was erected in Buddhavanam by monks from Sri Lanka and is made of ferro-cement. Buddha can be seen wearing robes and making the Abhaya Mudra (gesture of fearlessness). The left hand holds the robe on the left shoulder. The palm of the right hand, facing left, is positioned above the right shoulder.
How To Get There
Nagarjuna Sagar is well-connected to all cities, including Hyderabad. If you want to travel by rail, a direct train runs from Hyderabad to Mecharla, 28 km from Nagarjuna Sagar.
You can also rent a cab or use public transport to get there. Rajiv Gandhi International Airport is the closest airport to Nagarjuna Sagar. It has good connectivity and is well-connected to all parts of the country.
Where to stay
Haritha Vijay Vihar, run and managed by the Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation, is roughly 2.5 km from Buddhavanam. It offers both A/C and non-A/C rooms, a conference hall, a board room, and a swimming pool.
Location TSTDC Haritha Resorts Vijay Vihar, Nagarjuna Sagar, Hill Colony, Nalgonda, Telangana - 508202
Phone No 91-08680-277362/363