Nagarjunakonda monastic cluster, (near) Nagarjuna Sagar dam, Andhra Pradesh, IN

Raw data

This monastery complex is located in a small side valley of the Eastern Ghats off the Krishna River inland from the mouth. By inscriptions and texts it is datable to the third century CE. The complex was mainly built with patronage of the royal family of a small regional dynasty known as the Iksvaku whose capital, Vijaypuri, was nearby. The capital has archaeological evidence of a large trading network that spread to Southeast Asia, China and Rome. The kings themselves were Hindu but several of the royal wives and daughters supported the Buddhist monasteries. Work began with the renovation of an existing large monastery in 246 CE (in which were Buddha relics) and continued with the building of various monasteries. Modern day archaeologists located approximately thirty monasteries before the whole valley was flooded by the rising water behind a new dam. A few of the structures were moved to an island in the middle of the artificial lake. The island has become a tourist destination.
See Sukumar Dutt, Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India: their history and contribution to Indian culture (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd. 1962), p. 127 - 136.
Src: India
Input by: Stewart Gordon, Aug 29, 2009

"During the 3rd–4th centuries AD, Nagarjunakonda, 150 km south of Hyderabad, was the capital of the Ikshvaku rulers. The ancient site occupied an area of about 23 in a valley on the banks of Krishna river. A large number of monasteries and shrines were erected to serve the needs of different Buddhist sects. Most of the excavated remains were submerged under the enormous reservoir created by the Dam built in the nineteen sixties on the Krishna river. A few monuments were reconstructed on a hilltop, which became an island in the reservoir.
At Nagarjunakonda the reconstructed stupas have circular brick or rubble walls. The walls have cladding of limestone slabs or plaster. The Simha Vihara has two Chaitya halls, one encircling a Buddha image. The Chaitya Halls and monasteries had limestone columns set in to brick or stone walls. However only the lower portions including the pavement slabs and access steps survive. Nagarjunakonda also has remains of some Hindu shrines. The island has an archaeological museum rich in sculptures mainly from the 3rd –4th century AD and also a few pieces from much later periods.
Other reconstruction sites are at Anupu on the east bank of the river. […]"

"Nagarjunakonda (meaning Nagarjuna Hill in Telugu) is a historical Buddhist town, now an island located near Nagarjuna Sagar in Nalgonda district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. […] It was formed when a hill was submerged in the waters of the Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, constructed in the 1960s. It is one of India's richest Buddhist sites, known in the ancient times as Sri Parvata. It now lies almost entirely under the Nagarjunasagar Dam. It is named after Nagarjuna, a southern Indian master of Mahayana Buddhism who lived in the 2nd century AD, who is believed to have been responsible for the Buddhist activity in the area. The site was once the location of many Buddhist universities and monasteries, attracting students from as far as China, Gandhara, Bengal and Sri Lanka.
[…] Lat: 16.18, Long: 80.27"

"Nagarjunakonda Buddhist remains of the Mahasangkika School founded between the 3rd and 4th century A.D. The monasteries include the grouping of a mahacetiya with twin cetiyas, a revolutionary way to represent sacred places and events." Kim (2011)

A university center - Nagarjunakonda, in Andhra Pradesh -

Input by: tmciolek, Aug 29, 2009

"Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he [Nāgārjuna] is credited with founding the Madhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Nāgārjuna is also credited with developing the philosophy of the Prajñāpāramitā Sūtras and, in some sources, with having revealed these scriptures in the world, having recovered them from the nāgas (dragons). Furthermore, he is traditionally supposed to have written several treatises on rasayana alchemy as well as serving a term as the head of Nālandā University. […] Nāgārjuna is conventionally placed at around 150–250 CE.[6]
Some sources claim that Nāgārjuna lived on the mountain of Śrīparvata in his later years, near the city that would later be called Nāgārjunakoṇḍa ("Hill of Nāgārjuna").[8] Nāgārjunakoṇḍa was located in what is now the Nalgonda/ Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. The Caitika and Bahuśrutīya nikāyas are known to have had monasteries in Nāgārjunakoṇḍa.[9]"
Input by: tmciolek, Sep 29, 2013

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 14 May 2015

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 2 km from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Nagarjunakonda monastery, IN.

General location of the Nagarjunakonda monastery, IN.
lat=16.519962 long=79.242104
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2009.

Google Map link:,%20IN)&ll=16.519962,79.242104&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

  • Nagarjunakonda monastic cluster

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • India: State of Andhra Pradesh

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

  • Approx. Lat: 16.519962 Long: 79.242104 - based the visual identification of an island on the Nagarjuna Sagar lake, GoogleEarth satellite imagery [therefore, the values Lat: 16.18, Long: 80.27 given by the Wikipedia appear to be incorrect -] - tmc, 3 Sep 2009.

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

  • [missing data]

8. The settlement's coordinates

  • Approx., location of Nagarjuna Sagar - Lat 16.5800 Long 79.3210 - based on the visual identification of the town in maps, - tmciolek, 28 Jul 2010.

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Initially, it was Theravada. By the seventh century it was Mahayana.

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

  • Inscriptions of the third century record donations to the Aparaseliya sect and the Mahaseliya sect
  • Mahasanghika, whose center was at Amaravati, 120 miles west along the Krishna River. 

11. Date-early

MBM chrono-tag: 0200-32c 0233-66c 0267-99c 0300-32c 0333-66c 0367-99c - tmciolek 29 Sep 2013
0200-32c 0233-66c 0267-99c 0300-32c 0333-66c 0367-99c 0400-32p 0433-66p 0467-99p 0500-32p 0533-66p 0567-99p dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

  • 246 CE - the existing large monastery was renovated. Sukumar Dutt (1962:127-136)

MBM chrono-tag: 0233-66c - tmciolek 29 Sep 2013

13. Date-late

  • 640 CE. Xuanzang found most of the monasteries were deserted.

MBM chrono-tag: 0567-99p - tmciolek 29 Sep 2013

  • 14. Details of contacts with other monasteries
  • The royal women built a monastery for monks from Sri Lanka.
  • Ties were very close with Amaravati monastic cluster, 120 miles up the Krishna River.
  • Donations were given to Devagiri
  • An inscription praises the Ceylonese monks as converting Kashmir, Gandhara, China, Kirata, Tosali, Aparranta, Vanga, Vanavasi, Yavana, Tamil country, Paluva and the island of Ceylon. Some of these place names are readily identifiable (Kashmir, China, Tamilnadu and Varanasi), others include current-day Pakistan, Afghanistan and the western Silk Road). The remainder are not identifiable.

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • art history, inscriptions, architecture. In the city - numismatics, inscriptions, archaeology.

16. Additional notes

  • Sarkar estimates that there were approx 450 monks in the Nagarjunakonda monastery - (H. Sarkar 1966, cited Singh 2008:452)
  • In 640 Ce Xuanzang found only 1,000 monks at the site with most of the monasteries deserted.
  • The site was once the location of many Buddhist universities attracting students from as far as China, Gandhara, Bengal and Sri Lanka. -

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

18. Known monks and nuns associated with this monastery

19. Available Printed Literature

  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 1]
  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 2]
  • [bibliographical details of the Book/Article 3]

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