Nagarjunakonda, or “Nagarjuna’s Hill”, 166km south of Hyderabad and 175km west of Vijayawada, is all that remains of the vast area, rich in archeological sites, that was submerged when the huge Nagarjuna Sagar dam was built across the River Krishna in 1960. Ancient settlements in the valley had first been discovered in 1926, and extensive excavations carried out between 1954 and 1960 uncovered more than one hundred sites dating from the early Stone Age to late medieval times. Nagarjunakonda was once the summit of a hill, where a fort towered 200m above the valley floor; now it is just a small oblong island near the middle of Nagarjuna Sagar lake. The new border between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh runs right through the lake and both states claim it as their own in tourist literature. It certainly falls more within the compass of Hyderabad, eventually to be solely the capital of Telangana, which manages the local resort.

Several Buddhist monuments have been reconstructed, in an operation reminiscent of that at Abu Simbel in Egypt, and a museum exhibits the more remarkable ruins of the valley. Vijayapuri, the village on the shore of the lake, overlooks the colossal dam itself, which produces electricity for the whole region, and is the jumping-off point for boat trips to Nagarjunakonda island.

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