Sunday, August 16, 2009

The DSC00559Hemakuta Hill: The Hemakuta hill has three doorways, one on the south-eastern side, one on the south and the other on the eastern side of the hill which leads to the street near the main temple of Hampi.

The granite slope of the Hemakuta Hill is dotted with shrines. The hill is encircled on its three sides by massive fortification. To the north is the enclosure wall of the Virupaksha Temple. More than thirty shrines stand on this hill. These vary from elaborate structure with multiple sanctums to rudimentary, single celled construction. Most of the temples have stepped pyramidal type of super structure. DSC00563

Two of the temples have inscriptions. The triple Shiva temples on the east has an inscription recording that Vira Kampiladeva, son of Mummadi Singeya Nayaka, built the Sivalaya and installed in it three Lingas. Two inscriptions on the rock near the Prasanna Anjaneya temple dated 1398 AD. mention that Virupaksha Panditha and his brother constructed a temple of Virupaksha and dug a tank. Another inscription on a rock base records the settingDSC00577 of a lamp pillar in the temple of Jadeya Sankaradeva by Bukkave, the queen of Harihara II in the year 1397 AD. The group of temples on the Hemakuta hill form one of the earliest group of structures at Hampi and appear to date from about 9th to early 14th century AD. and all of them are clearly of Saiva origin. 

Once you reach the top of the Hemakuta hill, you will find temples here and there and some in total ruins.  Some of the temples have sunk partially in toDSC00575 the ground and the renovations to the temples are underway conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India to lift them up. There had been a lot of wear and tear to the temples because of they being one of the oldest in the kingdom.

There is a small pond on the hill formed by rain water and the water flows between a small divide between the huge rock. And three small Siva Lingas are carved on the floor of the rock on a single DSC00587base.   

As mentioned earlier, there are multiple Siva shrines on the hill and the architecture of the temples is outstanding. You can identify a Siva temple very easily seeing the pillars of the temple and the super structure. The super structure will always be stepped pyramid type and the walls are carved with simple design. The pillars of a Siva temple are generally square blocks and multiple individual parts arranged one on the other to DSC00589form a pillar. They are never carved out of a single stone. There will be round plates in between the square blocks. There will be ideally four pillars before the inner sanctum of a small shrine and the floor enclosing the four pillars will be carved round and a square will be carved on the ceiling will exquisite designs inside it. There will be a small elevated platform inside the inner sanctum where the idol or the Siva Linga would be sitting. DSC00582

The Virupaksha Temple Complex is seen from the North side of the hill. You can have a bird’s eye view of the whole complex including all its Gopuras (doorways).  It is a nice view of the temple from the top of the hill.  From here we descend the hill though the east doorway of the Hemakuta Hill. As we descend, we proceed towards the Virupaksha Temple. There are small eateries where  they prepare nice tea. Tea is a refreshment from the strain one can have roaming on the hill. I spent some time sipping tea and updating my checklist (Aye! I had a checklist of all the places) and the proceeded to the temple of the main deity in Hampi, Virupaksha.

To be continued…

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Continued from the previous post…

Kadlekalu Ganesha: As i move towards the PDSC00529avilion where the Kadlekalu Ganesha resides, i see a small Mantap which was once used for resting. The monolithic Kadlekalu Ganesha is so called, for the closeness in appearance, of the share of its belly, to the unsplit Bengal gram. The sculpture is carved out of a single boulder in situ, and stands 4.5 mts. high.

Dated to the 15th century, and located on the north-eastern edge of the Hemakuta hillock, the seated Ganesha sculpture, is four armed, and bears in each hand a tusk, goad, noose and a bowl of sweetmeats, respectively.

TDSC00527he monolith is enshrined in a simple sanctum with a vestibule and an open ornate pillared pavilion in front. The tall slender pillars are sculpted with depictions of various Hindu gods and goddesses.

This idol also had taken the brunt of the siege of Hampi in 1565. Its belly is cut off to some extent where it is suspected to hide jewels and gold inside. 

Sasivekalu Ganesha: As we move along we come to a small Pavilion which houses the Sasivekalu Ganesha. Situated on the south-eastern slopes of the Hemakuta hillock, this monolithic Ganesha, is four armed and referred to as the Sasivekalu (mustard seed) Ganesha. In situ, it stands 2.4 mts high, and is enclosed in an open, plain pillared pavilion. DSC00548

The statue sealed in half lots posture (ardha padmasana) bears a tusk, goad, noose and bowl of sweets in its four arms, respectively.

An inscription engraved on a rock nearby, records that this Vinayaka mantapa was built in 1506 A.D., by a trader belonging to Chandragiri (near Tirupathi, Andhra Pradesh), in memory of Narasimha II (1491 - 1505 A.D), of the Saluva dynasty.

Passing this pavilion there is a way uphill which leads to the Hemakuta Hill. The Hemakuta hillock is one of the favourite location for a view of the Sunrise or Sunset as once we reach on the top,  there are no obstructions and we can have a clear view of the sky. The hills and pavilions for a distance of 10 miles can be visible from the top of the hillock. A nice view of the Krishna Temple Complex can be had while moving to the top of the hill.

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To be continued…

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The first impression that you get when you get inside Hampi is that you have come to a not a village, not a town kind of place. The place is busy since early morning with sunrise gazers going for a walk to the nearby hills or the local eateries preparing breakfast. But the one thing everybody notices is the inflow of tourists.

It was around 7.00 AM when i arrived in Hampi. The place where the buses stop is swarmed with locals offering assistance in finding an accommodation.  I found a guy who took me to 3-4 placeDSC01498s, some costly for it being a tourism season. Finally, i got a decent place which was charged Rs. 250 per day including provision of hot water for bath.

I moved in to my accommodation, got fresh and started my tour of Hampi. The place where i stayed is just in the street beside the main temple of Hampi. Once i came on to the main road, i saw tourists swarming around the temple and some hiring bicycles. You can see loDSC00537cal vendors selling turmeric and Kumkum for the offering to the deity. Its a very busy atmosphere. There are shops who sell various articles made of brass which are replicas of the various important monuments of Hampi. 

As i move along the road, i see a very big wooden chariot covered in tin sheets. And there is a road which is uphill and i had to strain myself walking on it. The road is fenced on either side and there are some small Mantapas on either side. Passing along the road, we will reach a turning where again we see some small shrines of Vishnu and Shiva. We see an empty pedestal which once held a Shivalinga. DSC00523


From here, i move to the first major monument, the Kadlekalu Ganesha.

To be continued…

Sunday, August 2, 2009

My journey started on the 21st of December 2007. This time i went alone. I feel that if one wants to enjoy art and histoDSC02424ry to the fullest, one must be alone. I reached Hospet early in the morning at 5.00 AM. I had to wait one and a half hours to get a bus to Hampi, which is at a distance of 12 Kms from Hospet.

Tourists started swarming the bus station and many of them were of different nationalities. There were locals who were offering to drop them in Hampi for lesser prices. I spoke to a couple of foreigners and they had actually booked accommodation prior to their arrival. Finally, the buses started and we were on the bus to Hampi. The half an hour journey to Hampi was extraordinary with ruins apDSC02428pearing on the road side and small temples just lay in the fields.

The perimeter of the kingdom of Vijaynagar actually starts in Hospet and you can find the fortified walls here and there. As we go to Hampi, there are some things that one can visit.

Ananthasayana Temple: This temple is one of the grandest in the Vijaynagar era and once upon a time, whoever visited the empireDSC02439 had a darshan of the lord before entering Hampi. This shrine was erected by Krishnadevaraya in 1524 A.D for the god Ananthapadmanabha in the town Sale Tirumala - Maharayapura founded by him in the honour of his son.

The king appointed priests following Vaikhanasa agama for conducting worship. Facing north, the temple is of colossal proportions. The temple has a rectangular sDSC02436anctum with three doorways. The long pedestal within the Garbhagriha was intended for an image of reclining Vishnu.

The vaulted dome over the Garbhagriha measures 10 meters high and speaks much about the constructional skill of the Vijayanagara craftsman. A small minor shrine for Devi is situated to the south west in the complex.

Today, this temple is without proper care and you can find some unauthorized local guides offering to tell the stories of the empire.

Ahmed Khan’s Tomb and Mosque: During the reign of Ramaraya, there used to beDSC02450 a general by name Jagannadha Patrudu. He is actually an illegitimate son of Ramaraya. He wanted the downfall of the empire and joins the enemy by changing his name to Ahmed Khan. Finally, he along with the enemy brings down the kingdom. He dies in the final battle and the enemy constructs a mosque on his name along with his tomb. You can find the mosque and tomb on the Hospet - Hampi route.

An Old Water Tank: On the Hampi - Kampli road, you will find a small water storage area. The area is fenced and lawn developed all round the tank. TDSC02527he entrance to the tank is closed to avoidDSC02529 people accidentally falling into the tank. There is nothing much if importance in this place but one can realize the planning done by the administration in water storage.  

These are the most important locations that you will find on the Hospet - Hampi Road. Of course, there are tons of things when you rDSC00974each Hampi. We will take one at a time.

As you are nearing Hampi from Hospet, you will find temples and old monuments on either side of the road and that is the first view that one  gets of what is in store. Its a pleasure to watch the road passing under some old constructions. One must appreciate the quality of the constructions which stood intact for 500 years. The first one you see is the one in the photograph where it was one of the entrances of the empire.

You can imagine soldiers guarding the entrance on either sides and on the top. A wonderful view…

To be continued……

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Continued from the previous post…

The history of Hampi goes a long way back to the 13th Century when cousins Harihara and Bukka laid the foundation of an empire which would flourish for the next 300 years. During its period, the empire extended from Andhra Pradesh to entire Karnataka to parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.DSC00664

A special mention need to be made about the Royal Emblem. It consists of the Varaha (Boar, which depicted a form of Lord Vishnu), a dagger, Sun and the Moon. This means that the kingdom of Vijaynagar, with the grace of Lord Varaha would rule the land as long as the Sun and the Moon exists.

The Vijayanagar empire was ruled by four dynasties, the Sangama, the Saluva, the Tuluva and the Aravidu. The empire has seen its glory during the rule of the Tuluva King, Sri Krishnadeva Raya. Krishna Devaraya was a poet and a musician himself. He was known to be a great player of the Veena. During his rule, the empire was at its best in terms of art, literature and trade.

DSC01265During his tenure, there were no famines and the people of the kingdom were abundant with wealth. Precious stones were sold publicly for weight and the enemies of the king feared his valour. Many foreign visitors travelled across the kingdom and there are texts by Dominigo Paes, who visited the kingdom during the years 1520 - 1522.  He describes the King himself as shown in this picture.

Krishna Devaraya had no sons and he was succeeded by his son - in - law, Ramaraya who took charge from Achyutharaya the cousin of Sri Krishna Devaraya. Ramaraya ascended the throne at the ripe age of 93.

The Kingdom was almost at its end when Ramaraya came to power. Heads of small provinces started revolting and declared themselves independent. Moreover, the prominence of the Mohammedan Rulers was evident and the same rulers who sometime earlier had no unity and feared the name of Ramaraya, started plans to takeover the kingdom.

The year 1565 A.D had seen one of the greatest kingdoms fall. Four rulers, Ali Adilshah the Sultan of Bijapur, Mohammed Qutub Shah the Sultan of Golconda, Berid Shah the Sultan of Ahmadnagar and Nizam Shah Shah the Nawab of Arcot came together to take down the mighty Vijaynagar Empire. Finally in the battle of Tallikota, Ramaraya was killed and Vijayanagar ruined. Historians say that every soldier who looted the city turned into a millionaire.

The Hampi we see today is a result of the brutal warfare that happened in 1565. The palaces were taken down and the temples looted. There are around 100 temples in Hampi and not even one has an idol. The idols wereDSC01128 desecrated and the rubble thrown around. Every statue of an elephant in Hampi bears a mark of the brutality, its trunk cut off.

After Ramaraya, the descendants of Ramaraya and Krishna Devaraya tried ruling the kingdom but they were soon challenged by the local landlords. Soon the kingdom which shone as the mightiest of the empires faded.

Even though the temples were looted, no one could damage their architecture. Even the minute details of the carvings are intact. And we are indeed lucky to find them intact even after 500 years of wear and tear. Visiting these places makes a person nostalgic as to how might they might have looked during their days of glory. So lets travel across Hampi to see a glimpse of India’s glory.

To be continued…