Amaravati is a city located in Guntur district in India’s eastern state of Andhra Pradesh. The city is also known as Punyakshetra or Amareswaram. The recorded history of Amaravati and nearby Dharanikota is from 2nd century BCE. It was the capital of Andhra Satavahanas who ruled from 2nd century BCE to 3rd century CE. After the decline of Satavahanas, Andhra Ikshvakus and later Pallava kings ruled Krishna river valley. Subsequently, Eastern Chalukyas and Telugu Cholas held sway over the region. Kota Kings were in control of Amaravati during the medieval times. Kota kings were subdued by Kakatiyas in 11th century CE and Amaravati became part of the unified Telugu empire.
Amaravati is considered sacred because of three things: the Krishna River; ‘Sthalamahatyam’, an important ‘Kshetra’; and, the ‘Sri Mahalinga Murthy’. In addition, according to Vajrayana traditional sources, the Buddha preached at Dharanikota/Dhanyakatakam and conducted Kalachakra ceremony, which would take the antiquity of Amaravati back to 500 BCE.
The city’s built heritage includes the famous Amareswara temple (dedicated to lord Shiva, present in the form of a 15 ft. high white marble Shiva lingam), Mahachaitya (The Great Stupa, built around the 2nd century, with intricate carvings that depict the life and teachings of Lord Buddha), Buddhist sculptures and slabs with Buddhist inscriptions. The major festivals celebrated in the Amareswara temple are the Maha Shivaratri, falling on the ‘Magha Bahula Dasami’, the Navaratri and the ‘Kalyana Utsavas’