Andhra Pradesh's close links with Buddhism is borne out of the fact that the state has several Buddhist sites which are rich with Buddhist monasteries, chaityas, viharas, mahachaityas, and sculptures.
Among the many Buddhist spots of the state, these are the leading ones:
Nagarjunakonda gets its name from the renowned Buddhist scholar and monk Acharya Nagarajuna--the founder of the Mahayana form of Buddhism. Nagarajuna propagated Madhyamika and made Vijay Puri, also called Sriparvata an excellent centre of learning. Sriparvata was the capital of the Ikshvaku Kings.
At present, Nagarjunakonda is famous as an excellent Island Museum where one can see excellent Buddhist sculptures and artifacts beautifully restored and preserved.
One of the oldest Buddhist sites in India, Amravati--also called Dhanyakatak--is located on the banks of the Krishna River, and has the largest Buddhist stupa in the world. This wonderful Buddhist spot attracts the tourists on the trail of Lord Buddha in good numbers.
Located at a distance of 16 km away from the Vizag City, Thotlakonda is an important Buddhist destination in Andhra Pradesh. The discovery of many Buddhist stupas, chaitya grihas, viharas (10 with 72 cells), and a stone-pillared congregation hall at Thotlakonda show this Buddhist site was once a thriving Buddhist centre.
Located at a distance of about 15 km away from the Vizag City, the Buddhist site of Bavikonda is spread over an area of 40 acres. Here, the Hinayana from of Buddhism was widely practiced between the 3rd century BC and 3rd century AD. The site has impressive Buddhist remains with a monastery, and an urn containing the mortal remains of the Lord Buddha being the main ones.
This Buddhist site's claim to fame rests on the fact that here the ruins of a Buddhist university and a stadium have been discovered.
A famous Buddhist heritage site and pilgrimage destination, the scenic Buddhist site of Sankaram, locally called Bojjannakonda, is located 40 km away from the Vizag City. This Andhra Pradesh Buddhist site is unique as here all the three forms of Buddhism-Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayan--seem to have been practiced in the distant past. The discovery of rock-cut caves, monolithic votive stupas, chaitya halls, vajrayana sculptures, and votive platforms at Sankaram further show the site's close links with Buddhism.
Besides these Buddhist spots, Andhra Pradesh has several other key Buddhist sites such as Jaggayyapeta, Bhattiprolu, Ghantasala, Guntupalli, Salilhundam, Adurru, and Dhulikatta, besides many others.