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Red Sand Dunes UPSC NOTE

 

  • Sand dunes are formed by the wind blowing sand particles into hills and ridges

  • They can be found in deserts all over the world, and they come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

  • The color of sand dunes can vary depending on the minerals that are present in the sand

  • For example, red sand dunes are often found in areas where there is a lot of iron oxide in the soil.

Most famous red sand dunes in the world include:

  1. The Namib Desert in Namibia

  2. The Simpson Desert in Australia

  3. The Sahara Desert in Africa

Buddhist heritage sites at Thotlakonda, Bavikonda and Parvulakonda

  • The Thotlakonda Buddhist Complex, located on a hill near Bheemunipatnam, about 15 kilometers from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

  • It is a treasure trove of Buddhist heritage.

Key sites you can find there:

  • Mahastupa: This is the largest stupa at the complex, dating back to the 2nd century BCE

  • It was reconstructed in 2016 by the State Archaeology department after being partially damaged by monsoons in 2019. 

  • The stupa is believed to have housed sacred relics.

  • Chaitya grihas: These prayer halls were used by monks for meditation and religious ceremonies. 

  • There are several chaitya grihas at Thotlakonda, each with its own unique features.

  • Viharas: These were the residences of the monks. The viharas at Thotlakonda are typically two-storeyed structures with cells for individual monks, a common courtyard, and a kitchen.

  • Bavikonda, meaning "hill of wells" in Telugu, is another significant Buddhist heritage site located about 15 kilometers from Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

  • Similar to Thotlakonda, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of ancient Buddhist monks.

Key sites you can find at Bavikonda:

  • Mahachaitya: This massive stupa, dating back to the 3rd century BCE, is the centerpiece of the complex. 

  • It is believed to enshrine sacred relics and was once adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures.

  • Vihara Complex: This sprawling complex housed the living quarters of the monks

  • It comprises several rectangular halls with individual cells, a common courtyard, and a refectory (dining hall).

  • Stupa with Relic Casket: This unique stupa, excavated in 1982, contained a relic casket holding a bone fragment believed to be part of the Buddha's remains.

  • Rock-cut Wells: As the name suggests, the complex boasts numerous rock-cut wells used for rainwater harvesting, showcasing the monks' ingenuity in water management.

  • Stone Pillared Congregation Hall: This impressive hall, supported by massive stone pillars, served as a gathering place for monks and possibly religious ceremonies.

  • Paravulkonda: Located in Visakhapatnam district, Andhra Pradesh, India, Paravulkonda is an ancient Buddhist complex dating back to the 2nd century BCE

  • It was an important center of Mahayana Buddhism and flourished until the 12th century CE. 

  • The site is known for its numerous stupas, chaityas, viharas, and other monastic structures.

  • Mahachaitya: The largest and most prominent structure at Paravulkonda is the Mahachaitya, a hemispherical stupa believed to enshrine the relics of the Buddha. 

  • It is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures depicting various Buddhist symbols and stories.

  • Vihara complex: The vihara complex at Paravulkonda comprises several monastic buildings that housed the monks who lived and studied at the site. 

  • These structures typically have multiple floors with cells for individual monks, a common courtyard, and a kitchen.

  • Rock-cut cisterns: Due to its hilltop location, Paravulkonda has numerous rock-cut cisterns that were used to collect and store rainwater.

  • These cisterns were essential for the survival of the monks during the dry season.

  • Other notable features: The site also has several other noteworthy features, such as meditation halls, prayer halls, and sculptures of Buddhist deities.

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