About 152.4km away from the city of Hyderabad and about three hours drive is the 274-acre campus which is all about Gautama Buddha. The huge structure was thrown open to the public in December 2021. Buddhavanam, as the place is called, brings us close to the Buddhist principles, which mean a lot in the times of COVID and Omicron. One of Buddha’s principle teachings was that pain is inevitable for human beings, but suffering is an option.
So, one can skip the snarling traffic and pollution and can head to the awesome, lush Nallamala forest watching the quartzite rocks on the way and river Krishna flowing alongside. Located on National Highway No 565 connecting the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the Rs 65 crore Buddhavanam project is the latest attraction from the Telangana Tourist Development Corporation. It is known that in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, Nagarjuna Sagar was a seat of Buddhism and several scholars and seekers came from far and wide.
As for Buddhavanam in Telangana state, it is a fruit of 5 years of hard work where world-class infrastructure has been developed to attract international tourists, especially from south-east Asia and, of course, the local tourists. The maha stupa happens to be a white dome with golden lotus petals, and the stone walls are a replica of the original 1700-yr-old Amaravati stupa in dimensions, shape, and design.
If one spends time walking around the Pancha Dhyana Buddhas on four sides and four cardinal directions, one will spot the panels from Nelakondapalli, a neighboring town that also happens to have Buddhist connections. Apparently, 1200 artisans worked for five years to come up with this absolutely enticing stupa of sorts.
Also, one has to observe and relish the beauty of heavily engraved doors that symbolize pragna or wisdom, a Buddhist heritage museum, an amphitheater, and an interpretation center beside a 28-foot stupa of Buddha in dhyana mudra. Sitting under the dome is an experience in itself, thanks to the calm and serene vibrations it generates.
There are also depictions of the life and times of Buddha. But a backlit replica of the 27-foot Avukana Buddha statue donated by the government of Sri Lanka and the Dhamma Bell are a must-see while here.
However, that is not all. Soon, there will be a dhyanavanam, stupavanam. Also, popular monasteries of Southeast Asia will be starting their chapters here, and there will be a Buddhist university, research library, hospital with Tibetan herbal medicine, Buddhist crafts village, and cottages to stay in for tourists. For now, tourists can stay at the TSTDC resort in Vijay Vihar, which is about 3km away from Buddhavanam.