The rock-cut caves.
Hyderabad: The 2,000-year-old Buddhist rock-cut caves at Seetanagaram on the banks of the Krishna near the capital Amaravati are in shambles. The caves are full of anthills, bats and thorny overgrowth.
The structure has one cell with a rock-cut bed ante-chamber and another cell on the left. They are dated to the Satavahana era in the 1st and 2nd century AD.
"It is very interesting to note that a rock-cut cave structure that was excavated on the Sitanagaram Hill, on the right bank of the River Krishna and next to the Prakasam Barrage, was renovated by plastering the rock-cut walls and ceilings with lime and by adding a frontage and RCC roof to the open verandah and converted into a temple some 20 years back, according to the priest of the Ayyappa temple nearby," said Buddhist archaeologist and CEO of The Cultural Centre of Vijayawada, E. Siva Nagi Reddy.
Archaeologists and heritage lovers are now demanding that the front wooden gate be locked. Since the cave at present does not house any idol, it should be restored by removing the lime plaster on the walls, RCC ceiling on the left side and front open verandah.
"These caves could be brought on the Amaravati Buddhist circuit taken up by AP Tourism by erecting a legend board depicting the historical significance of the caves for the benefit of visitors," Mr Reddy said.
"The suburbs of Vijayawada are studded with a good number of rock-cut caves affiliated with Buddhism and date back to 1st and 2nd centuries AD. The activity was continued during the 4th or 5th centuries AD as noticed at Akkanna Madanna caves, Mogalrajpuram caves and Undavelli caves," Mr Nagi Reddy said.
According to archaeologists, the Akkanna Madanna caves, excavated at the foot of the Indrakiladri Hill that are carved with horned dwarapas, date back to 4th century AD and is affiliated to the early Pallavas.
The series of five cave temples at Mogalrajpuram were carved with figures of the Nataraja, Durga and Ganesha during 5th Century AD (Vishnu Kundin Period).