By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Amaravati, AmarAvati, Amaraavati
Amarāvati literally means ‘the abode of immortals’.
The purāṇas (mythological works) delight in describing Amarāvati, the capital of Indra’s paradise. Situated on the eastern side of Mt. Meru it is said to have a thousand gates and a hundred palaces. Full of fragrant flowers and sacred trees and with celestial chariots moving at will, it is the abode of a variety of celestial beings like devas, siddhas, apsarās, gandharvas and others. It can be attained only by those who have performed sacrifices, practiced severe penance, and those who die on the battlefield.
There is an Amarāvatī in Andhra Pradesh, situated on the south bank of the river Kṛṣṇā, about 32 kms. (20 miles) from Gantur. Though a small village now, it was formerly a flourishing city by name Dhānyakaṭaka, the capital of the Śālīvāhana empire (2nd and 3rd cent. A.D.). The Amareśvara temple and the Śivarātri celebrations were famous even by the tenth century A.D.
The discovery of parts of a stupa by Col. Mackenzie in 1798 A.D. has put Amarāvatī firmly on the architectural map of India. The great stupa took shape between 200 B. C. and 200 A.D. It was bigger than the Sāñcī stupa, It must have been 49 meters (162 ft.) in diameter and about 37 meters (120 ft.) in height. The works of sculpture, most of which are in the British Museum, are exquisite beautiful carvings, mostly in limestone.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore