Group of Buddhist Monuments, Guntupalli
Guntupalli is dotted with some of the finest specimens of monolithic and structural Buddhist remains datable to the 3rd-2nd century BC to 5th-6th century AD. The important monuments located are: rock cut temple or
vritta chaitya, large monastery, small monastery, brick chaitya, ruined mandapa, stone stupa and cluster of votive stupas.
Entrance fee: Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) - Rs. 15 per
head & Foreigner: Rs.200/-
Rock cut Temple(Vritta Chaitya): Datable to the 3rd-2nd century BC, the
vritta chaitya is circular on plan and enshrines a rock cut votive stupa provided with a small circumambulatory path around it. Locally known as Dharmalingeswara, it has vaulted domical ceiling marked by carved ribs while its exterior shows an arched facade, with ornamental rafts resembling famous Sudama and Lamasrishi caves of Bihar.
Large Monastery: Excavated into the sandstone cliff, the monastery contains a series of cells of varying dimensions meant for the monks to live in. It has a main entrance with the windows on sides, a narrow terrace and verandah. Both the entrances as well as the widows invariably bear arched facades akin to that of vritta chaitya. Marked by its simplicity the entire monastery is devoid of any ornamentation or decoration and thus attributed to the earliest Buddhist monastic architecture. Some of the cells were provided with deep cut channels to facilitate the rainwater drain in to a natural fissure located on the backside of the monastery.
Small Monastery: This rock cut vihara, located at a higher elevation of the hill is relatively smaller in dimension. In all there are five cells in it, which are crudely excavated and some remained unfinished. Due to the ravages of nature its fašade was badly affected leaving behind traces of gables on it.
Group of Stupas: Located on one of the terraces of hilltop and numbering more than sixty, these votive stupas erected on different occasions and time frames vary in their shape, size and mode of construction. Fashioned out of stone and also in brick, these votive stupas were set up on stone or brick basements. Amongst them are also seen small apsidal and circular votive chaityas.
Stone stupa: Datable to the 2nd century BC, this stupa with block stone veneering was subjected to partial excavations in the last quarter of 19th century. Considerable damage was done to its dome by the treasure hunters even before the excavations. The dome measures 2.62m height and 4.88m dia was erected over a circular basement. The excavations have yielded a stone relic casket containing gold and rock crystal.
Ruined Mandapa: The monument, presently represented by four standing broken stumps of the pillars was once supposed to be part of a large pillared assembly hall meant for the monks. An inscribed stone pillar retrieved during the clearance work speaks of the existence of a pillared mandapa, which received donations from the 1st to 5th century AD. The dimension of the original assembly hall was estimated as 56 ft.x34ft and was provided with entrance porches on eastern and western sides respectively.
Circular Brick Chaitya Griha: Datable to C. 3rd-2nd century BC, it is at the eastern extreme of the hill over an elevated terrace, approached by a long flight of stone steps. A record of an
upasika datable to 2nd-1st century BC refers to the setting up of these stone steps at the entrance platform. Its external diameter is 11 m and has an imposing adhistana. The wall of
chaityagriha rises to 80 cm height and measure 2.14 m wide. It houses a stupa at the center. The circumambulatory path around the stupa is 1.38 m wide.
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