Nagarjunakonda is a Buddhist heritage site located near Nagarjuna Sagar in the Nalgonda District of Andhra Pradesh. Situated at a distance of 150 km from the city of Hyderabad, Nagarjunakonda is a weekend destination. The ancient site has scattered remains of stupas, temples, monasteries, burial sites, a university and an amphitheatre of the days of yore.
The site is counted among India's richest Buddhist sites, which was known as Sri Parvata in the ancient times. The destination was a chief Buddhist learning centre with universities and monasteries.
The location is also identified as the Ashvamedha site, a ritual of horse sacrifice by the Ikshvaku Dynasty of the Vedic religion. An island in the Nagarjuna Sagar is named after a famous Buddhist monk, Nagarjuna, who preached here during the 2nd century AD. A major pilgrimage site for Buddhists, there are several archaeological sites having ruins of Buddhist civilisation.
The excavations have revealed articles and inscriptions dating back to 1,800 years. The ruins of the ancient civilisation were discovered in 1926, much of which are submerged under the largest man-made lakes in the world. The highlight of the ancient testimonies is the Gandhara style architecture of shrines and establishments.
Nagarjunakonda Island Museum and the art gallery on the island preserve sculptures and articles of prehistoric and late medieval era. It exhibits contrasting sculptures, stone images, encrypted panels, artefacts and other archaeological articles of the ancient Buddhist civilisation. These articles depict Jataka-stories, palace interiors, court scenes, devotees, artists, folklore, war scenes and tree nymphs.
The main attraction of the gallery is the partly ruined monolithic figurine of Lord Buddha. Historic discoveries in the form of friezes, coins and jewellery housed in the museum belong to the Paleolithic and Neolithic Ages. Some other noteworthy sites are Ethipothala Falls, Srisailam Wildlife Sanctuary and the Shiva temple on Nallamala Hills.
The archaeological site of Nagarjunakonda is located amidst the cities of Guntur and Hyderabad, which can be approached by the state highway. Nagarjunakonda is connected by a ferry to the mainland that has operations throughout the day. Macherla, at a distance of 30 km is the nearest railway station to the site. The closest airport to the destination is Rajiv Gandhi International Airport of Hyderabad.
Weather conditions are pleasant in the months between October and March, which is the best time to visit Nagarjunakonda.