Bavikonda is one of the oldest and most spectacular historical Buddhist sites in Vizag in the state of Andhra Pradesh. And if you happen to be in its vicinity, put it on the top of your sight-seeing list.
The hill acquired its name Bavikonda from the existing wells that collect rain water which is later used for drinking purpose. It was excavated in the 1990s and the remnants of this ancient site are a testimony to the Buddhist civilisation that once thrived in southern India. The artefacts recovered from here include Roman coins and Satavahanas coins along with pottery dating back to 3rd century BC and 2nd Century AD. Excavations on the hill-top have also brought light to 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, and moulded bricks. With a series of hills cleverly carved into stupas, this site has an uncanny resemblance to Borobudur in Indonesia.
About 6km from Bavikonda is another Buddhist Monastery Complex called Thotlakonda. Located on a hill overlooking the sea, the tranquil atmosphere and the strategic location of this monastery led to its popularity during the ancient times. The 2000-year-old Thotlakonda played an integral role while Buddhism was spreading to Sri Lanka and other parts of South-East Asia. It was a residential as well as an academic complex for several Buddhist monks. Although there are no records of its patronage, this was believed to be a thriving monastery.
Thotlakonda is ideal for a casual visit as not much is there to be seen. Mostly ruins of rock-cut troughs which were used as wells are seen around. These wells were used to store water for daily use in the monastery. Infact, the name Thotlakonda means ‘the hill of stone wells’. You can go for a stroll at the Thotlakonda beach nearby; one of the most beautiful places in Vizag.