Eight kilometres from the Nagarjuna Sagar dam in Guntur is Anupu that 1,700 years ago saw construction of one of India’s first amphi theatres. Inspired by those in Greece and Rome, the theatre has been the pride of the small city besides the Vihara (Buddhist University) and the Harathi temple. Unearthed and reconstructed by the Archaeological Survey of India after it drowned in the Krishna River, the city brings alive the period when Mahayana Buddhism was introduced to South India by Acharya Nagarjuna Mahayana.
A year ago, when Dr Sudha Murthy, Chairperson, Infosys Foundation, visited the beautiful ruins of Anupu, 17 km from Nagarjuna Sagar bus station, she went on a time travel. In an interview, she recalled, “When I went to see Anupu, I sat on one of those seats. The time in my head reversed to 1,700 years.” A small, beautiful amphi theatre, perhaps created for cultural festivals and Buddhist discussions, caught her attention. “If you observe keenly, there are small drainage holes in the theatre. There were dressing rooms and VIP seats in a circular format, almost like seats in an opera house.
How did she end up at Anupu, a fairly unheard of tourist site? “History fascinates me. I believe that our monuments are not jut structures built to survive the ravages of weather and time, but are witnesses to our great history. When I was reading Buddhist history, I chanced opon Anupu and went along with an archealogist to the site,” she explains. Her Foundation has conducted similar festivals at historic places like Lakshi Eshwar, 40 km from Hubli, where they conducted a programme called Udaya Raga, “The event called Udayaraga was at 5 am, but we had people assembling much before that even in the cold climes to experience the blend of art, culture and history,” Sudha explains.
The event will feature Andhra folk dances such as Tappeta Gullu, Veera Natyam, Garagalu, Nadaswaram by Sheik Yakub Saheb and Sheik Bade Saheb, a dance programme by the artists of Sri Rama Nataka Niketan, Secunderabad.
There will also be a three-day artist camp titled : ‘Landscape of Anupu’ by the artists of Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture & Fine Arts University, Hyderabad. Infosys team will present a concert, a Kuchipudi also a dance recital ‘Bhama Kalapam’ by Vedantam Radheshyam and ‘Chandalika’. Oggo, Dappu dance, Bonalu, Gussadi, Lambadi dance and Mathuri dances will also be part of the event.