Nagarjuna Sagar, located at a distance of 150 km from Hyderabad, is one of the most prominent Buddhist centers and attractive tourist spots in Andhra Pradesh.Known in ancient days as Vijayapuri, Nagarjunasagar takes its present name from Nagarjuna, one of the most revered Buddhist monks, who governed the sangha for nearly 60 years around the turn of the 2nd century AD. It is also a place of immense archaeological significance & excavations which reveal Nagarjunasagar as a center for the propagation of Buddhist teachings in South India.
One of the early river valley civilizations took birth here. Enthused by the peaceful environs of this place, Buddhists made this land a great hub of learning, setting up one of the four major Viharas here. Further down in history, one of the first Hindu kingdoms of South India, Ikshvakus made this city their capital. Once Vijayapuri, today Nagarjunasagar, this hoary land of antiquity and enligtment, now boasts of the world's tallest masonry dam.
Nagarjuna dam, which was completed in 1966, is 124 metres high and 1 km long has 26 crest gates. The lake, which it straddles, is the third largest manmade lake in the world. 4 kms away from the dam, is the Viewpoint, where a panoramic view of the amazing landscape, is simply a feast to the eyes.
One of the earliest hydro-electric projects of India, the Nagarjunasagar Dam is a symbol of modern India's architectural and technological triumphs over nature.The relics of Buddhist civilisation dating back to the 3rd Century A.D were excavated here.
The excavated remains of the Buddhist civilization have been reconstructed and are carefully preserved at Nagarjunakonda, a unique Island museum, situated in the midst of the man-made Nagarjunasagar lake.
Constructed In the shape of a Buddhist Vihara, the museum houses a stupendous collection of relics of Buddhist art and culture. Famous relics include a small tooth and an ear-ring believed to be of the Buddha. The main stupa of Nagarjunakonda called Mahachaitya is believed to contain the sacred relics of lhe Buddha. A partly ruined monolithic statue of the Buddha, that's at once a striking-image of peace and poise, is the main attraction at the museum.
The monasteries and chaityas were reconstructed on top of a hill called Nagarjunakonda (konda is the Telugu word for hill), which rises from the middle of the lake. The island takes its name from the Buddhist monk, Nagarjuna, who lived around the turn of the 2nd century AD and was the exponent of the philosophy of sunyata (void). Statues, friezes, coins and jewellery found at the site are housed in a museum on the island and give a fascinating insight into the daily lives of this ancient Buddhist centre. Earlier it used to be known as Vijayapur. The site was discovered in 1926. Subsequent excavations, particularly in the '50s and '60s, have unearthed the remains of stupas, viharas, chaityas and mandapams.
Ethipothala is a mountain stream cascading down the hills from a height of 21.3 meters into a lagoon. This waterfall is a combination of three streams namely Chandravanka Vagu, Nakkala Vagu & Tummala Vagu.
The dazzling lagoon formed by the falls has a crocodile-breeding centre. After flowing for 3 km, this stream joins with the river Krishna. Ranganadha and Dattatreya temples are found near the waterfalls. People believe that the caves near the waterfalls go to Srisailam.