Sankaram Buddhist Excavations
The village of Sankaram near Anakapalli, 38 km from Visakhapatnam is known for its 3rd and 4th century Buddhist structures. Situated on two small hillocks, these constructions are believed to be made during Mahayana period. The hills, Bojjannakonda and Lingalakonda have a monastery, numerous rock-cut stupas and sanctuaries cut into the sides of the hill with several Buddha images. There are a few small and simple caves on the hillock, which formed the Viharas (shelters) for the monks and students. The site, an archeologist’s delight has several antiquities like the seals, inscribed tablets, pots, copper coins mostly of seventh century AD. These were excavated a site.
A unique feature of Bojjannakonda which was excavated under the aegis of Alexander Rim in 1906 is that it shows all the three phases of Buddhism. i.e. Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. The main attraction here is the imposing figures of the Buddha, seated in a meditation-posture and the stupa. The main stupa was first carved out of rock and then encased in bricks. The hillock Lingalakonda, is located to the west of Bojjannakonda.
Bavikonda, on the north west of Timmapuram, is about 16 km from Vishakhapatnam along the beach road leading to Bheemunipatnam. The hill acquired the name Bavikonda due to the existence of wells on the hill to collect rain water for drinking purpose. The artifacts recovered here include Roman and Satavahana coins apart from pottery dating back to 3rd century BC and 2nd century A.D. Excavations on the hill-top brought to light an extensive Buddhist establishment consisting of a Mahachaitya, stupas, chaityagrihas, a congregation hall, platforms, Viharas, kitchen-cum-store complex, pottery, relic caskets, tiles, stuccos, iron objects, moulded bricks, coins, etc.
Pavurala Konda or Narasimhaswamy Konda is located to the west of Bhimli or Bheemunipatnam which is about 24 km. from Vizag. This hillock, also called ‘hill of pigeons’, covering an area of 12 acres, is at a height of 168mts above sea level. Excavations at the site reveal that the place could be dated between 3rd century B.C. and 2nd century A.D. Excavation revealed nearly 16 rock-cut troughs or cisterns used for collecting rainwater, foundations of Viharas, with cells and common verandah, circular chaityagrihas, votive stupas, halls, etc. The river Gosthani which flows near Pavuralakonda served as navigation canal for inland trade in the early centuries of the Christian era.
The Thotla Konda Buddhist Complex situated on a hilltop in Mangamaripeta village is 15 kms from Visakhapatnam on the Vizag-Bheemili beach road. Also known as ‘the Hill of Eagles“, the complex has a number of stupas, chaityas, Viharas, a congregation hall and a refectory belonging to the Himayana School. This was mostly excavated during1982-92. These remains are classified as religious, secular and civil. Excavated artifacts at Thotla Konda comprise pottery, beads, bangle pieces, tiles, stuccos, iron objects, sculptural remains, moulded bricks, inscriptions, coins, etc.