Saturday, October 31, 2009

The first structure that comes across in the Royal Enclosure is the Hazararama Temple.

The Hazararama Temple: This is the only temple situated in the core of the royal zone between the residential and ceremonial enclosures. Dedicated to Vishnu in his aspect as Lord RamDSC01022a, this 15th century temple, is the finest example of a compact Dravida Vimana type of temple. In plan it has a sanctum, vestibule,  pillared dance hall, with an entrance porch to the North and South. The Eastern porch is extended into an elegant pillared pavilion. There is a shrine for the goddess to the North which is also elegantly sculpted.

The temple is known for its sculpted friezes depicting the Ramayana, in three tiers, running all around the main shrine, and the narrative sculptures of the Lava-Kusha story on the Devi shrine. It is because of this that the temple was called the Hazara Rama. In addition, the temple is also known for the narrative sculptuDSC01023res of the Bhagavata, especially of Bala Krishna, and the sculpted polished pillars of the Mahamantapa (main hall). It was undoubtedly, the temple of the royal patronage.

As we move inside the temple complex, we see carvings everywhere; on walls and pillars. The story of the Ramayana starts with King Dasaratha performing  the Putrakameshthi (sacred ritual for want of children) on the left side of the main temple and ends with Ravana being killed on the front compound wall. However, the story of Lava-Kusha is found only on the Devi shrine.DSC01030

Each of the sculpture is in detail and clearly explains and depicts The Ramayana. One does not find words to express awe seeing such a masterpiece. This is a place where art historians can spend hours watching each sculpture and understand the details. Even for a normal tourist, it takes a minimum of half an hour to visit the entire complex. The local guides are, of course are well versed with the story of Ramayana and explain each sculpture in detail. As we move inside the temple, its even beautiful. The main hall has four pillars made of black DSC01037granite and sculpted with idols of gods and goddesses. The pillars shine even today with the limited light that passes inside. Even the ceiling is exquisitely designed with circular forms and looks very beautiful. A special mention need to be made of the outer walls of the temple which are carved with beautiful flower pots which are crafted with minute detail and DSC01014beautiful idols seeing which the craftsmanship of the sculptors is clearly understood.

Normally, when the main deity is male, the Devi shrine is not sculpted in detail. But here, even the Devi shrine is sculpted with the story of Lava - Kusha and we do not see any empty space on the walls and pillars. Even the outer side of the compound wall are carved with animals and warriors. Visitors will be dumbstruck with the elegance of the temple and will move on with many memories of the place.

We move further into the Royal Enclosure to the Horses’ stables.

As we enter the temple street, we come to the Ranga Temple.

Madhava (Ranga) Temple: Popularly known as the Ranga temple deDSC01171dicated to Madhava as per the inscription is built along with its Devi shrine in east west orientation. The Madhava temple has a Garbhagriha, a vestibule and a large 18 pillared Mukhamantapa. The temple is known for its colossal sculpture of Hanuman three meters high, placed in the Mukhamantapa. The Devi shrine is built on a raised Adhishtana of 2.5 meters high. 

An inDSC01175scription of the time of Sadasivaraya at the temple dated 1545 AD. records of the construction of a Rangamantapa for the god Madhava by Timmaraju son of Vallabharaju exclusively for holding dance, vocal and instrumental music concerts in the temple. The pillars of this Rangamantapa have sculptural depictions of Garuda, Vitthala, Surya, Balakrishna, Hanuman and Alwar. The sculptures of Krishna Leela, Vitthala, Srinivasa and episodes of Prahlada, Matsya, Varaha and Narasimha incarnations of Vishnu on the architrave are of interest.

Currently, this temple is in ruins and excavations are going on to explore many more things about the it. The entrance to the temple is big with the idols of Vishnu carved on it.  As always, there is no idol in the sanctum and the pedestal where the idol once resided is also broken. As mentioned earlier, there is a big inscription in Kannada here in the temple that tells about the history and consecration of it.

Pattanada Yellamma Temple: This temple is unique in its own way. DSC01187Even if it is an old temple probably consecrated during the 14th century, the construction is a recent one. And moreover, this is one of the few temples in India in which there is a priestess and not a priest. Most of the people visiting this temple are local women. Going along the temple street, there are some unidentified Mantapas and  temples in the vicinity. Nothing much to look for… After the temple street, there is the Pan Supari Bazaar.

It is not known why this was named so, but the Pan Supari Bazaar but there are similar Bazaar like constructions as we had seen earlier. There are basements of big buildings and some Mantapas. 

We can say the Pan Supari Bazaar is the entry point of the Royal Enclosure and the first magnificent and beautiful construction that we see, is the very important Hazara Rama Temple.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The two places that i am going to mention in this post are rarely visited. This may be due to two reasons, lack of information and reaching the place may be dangerous as not many people venture out there..

However, behind the elephant’s stable, there is a plantain grove. There is a small gate made of wood right next to the stable. We need to go through the gate and  cross the grove. It isDSC01133 a nice walk of nearly two kilometres under the trees. We then reach an open field filled with thorny bushes. Just at a distance we see a small ruined Siva temple. We can recognize it as a Siva temple only on the basis of the construction and the carvings on its pillars. 200 yards from the Siva temple, we come to the Parsvanatha Temple. A watchman of the Archaeological Survey of India lead me to this place based on my enquires in their office about the place.

Parsvanatha Temple: Another example of the religious tolerance and respect, this Jain temple was consecrated sometime in the 15th century by Sri Krishnadevaraya. There is an inscription in the temple confirming this point. One can easily recognize a Jain temple of the olden days. Their roof is flat; they have pillars similar to Siva shrine, but the design is very simple. DSC01143

The Parsvanatha temple seems a very simple shrine from outside. It has a big entrance and there is a pillared hall and a small room before the inner sanctum. The pillars are normal without any carvings on it, a typical feature of a Jain Temple. The small hall is very dark with a platform on either side with small caveats to hold idols. The inner sanctum has a stone pedestal for the idol, which of course is missing.

Although there are only two Jain temples in the Hampi area, the inscriptions suggest that the people of Hampi were not only ardent believers of non - violence, but also respected and followed them.

Moving on further, there is another plantain grove through which we need to pass. Just after we reach the clearing, there is a Vishnu temple which is totally in ruins now. But it must be a well maintained temple in the olden days, considering the size of the doors and the halls inside. This temple has three halls before the inner sanctum and excavation work is still going on inside. The inner walls of the temple have good designs carved on them. Moving further into the thorny open land we see a small temple and beside it, is the important place i was talking about.

Srinagarada Hebbagilu: As the name suggests (Hebbagilu means main door), this is one of the entrances to the Vijayanagar empire. It is large with raised platforms. This entranceDSC01155 should have been well protected. There are fortified walls on the inner side of the entrance on both the sides making it a pathway with walls on either side. There are platforms on either side of the entrance for the soldiers to guard. The doors must have been really huge and of stone. The whole entrance structure is plain except for a few carvings. 

There are no other temples outside of the entrance and you can find small pillared halls in the rocky hills nearby. They should have been used by the travellers or shepherds. One beautiful thing that we see are three small stone huts made on the top of a distant hill. Even though there are smaller shrines on the inside, they are in complete ruins and should be avoided for fear up reptiles.

Any trip to Hampi should not be completed without visiting this place, as it gives a lot of pleasure to visit the main entrance of the mighty kingdom.

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We turn back and move along the same path till we reach the elephant stable. We take a small left turn and from there we can reach the beginning of the Temple Street, which is the Ranga Temple.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Elephant’s Stable: This magnificent 15th century, domed and long rectangular structure, built in the Indo- Islamic style of architecture, is considered to be the stable for the State elephants. Facing west, it has eleven large domed chambers interconnected with large arched openings. TDSC01118here are shallow niches and doorways in the walls between the arches. The remnants of a structure near the central dome suggest a pillared pavilion on the top.

The domes are of various types, such as, circular octagonal, ribbed and fluted in design, and are symmetrically laid out. There are remnants of ornate stucco and plaster ornamentation, on both exterior and interior, which was part of the architecture and design of the building.

Every alternate dome is built in either Hindu or Islamic architecture. Even the ceiling in every dome is of a different design DSC01162within. The opening of an enclosure is big enough to let an adult elephant comfortably go in.

The elephants would be tied in icon chains, one end attached to the ceiling to a hook and the other to the elephant’s leg. The iron hooks to which the chains were suspended are still intact in some of the domes. It is said that the chains are preserved to this day and are currently in the upper level of the stable. There is a doorway to the upper level which is not accessible to the public.

The structures in the ZaDSC01122nana enclosure clearly shows the religious tolerance among  the kings of Vijayanagar. It is said that places of worship of all religions were constructed at every busy street and even a high religious tolerance was prevalent among the people.

The Guards’ Quarters: This rectangular building facing south is a simple yet strong one which is considered as the quarters for the guards who protected the Zanana enclosure. The usage of this quarters was just minimal, probably just for resting. A long corridor runs through inside where there is enough space for a man to lie down. It is currently a small open air museum with some sculptures inside. The prominent of those are the Nagini and the deer hunting sequence.

From here, we move to an important place and it is rare that someone visits it.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Lotus Mahal: This two storied palace, located in the Zanana enclosure, is one of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture, with its typically Hindu base and Islamic super structure. Dated circa 16th century, it is an indented square in plan, with massive piers, with cusped arches, which demarcate fourteen bays in the lower pavilion. It has nine pyramidal cupolas on the second storey, of which the central one is the largest. DSC01110

The exemplary plaster work on the outer faces of the cusped arches are in the form of Kirthimukha(lion faced) toranas. The torana creepers have playful birds perched on them. The Lotus Mahal is also referred to as Chitrangini Mahal locally.

This structure is one of the best in the architecture that one gets to see in Hampi. It is still intact and was one of the important places where the queen used to spend time. The ceiling of the ground floor is concave and in partitions. As mentioned, there are arches on the outer end of the building and is caved with very delicate and fine art. We can see this delicate art at one another place and DSC01115we will talk about it soon.

It is said that the floor on the upper level is also concave and water was filled in the cavities. This was done to make the building cool during summer when the queen spent most of the time here, trying to overcome the extreme heat. It was kind of a natural air conditioner. As the walls are of plaster, they would be cooled more easily and provide a nice atmosphere inside. Even though no body is allowed inside the Lotus Mahal, we can feel nice breeze once we get near to it.

The Watch Towers: As mentioned before, there are three watch towers at the east, southeast and north of the enclosure. They are are built in Islamic architecture and their magnitude clearly shows us the kind of protection that the enclosure would have had then. All the three are multiple storied and the way to the upper levels has been closed now

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From here, we move on to the Elephant stables.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Before we move to the Royal Enclosure, we take a detour towards the Zanana Enclosure.

On theDSC01098 way to the Zanana Enclosure, there is the office of the Archaeological Survey of India and a small open air museum of the various artefacts that are found in the region. The most notable pieces in this museum are the turret of the Chalukyan era and Lord Vishnu as Sesha Sayana.

Now we move on to our destination, the Zanana Enclosure.

The Tenali Rama pavilion: Just outside the Zanana enclosure, on a rocky area nearby, is a pillared hall named after one of the most notable courtiers of Sri Krishnadevaraya. Tenali Ramakrishna is known for his humour and notoriety. He is said to be blessed  by Goddess Gayatri after which he not only became knowledgeable and wise but also joined the “Ashtadiggajas” (Eight Wise Men) of the DSC01103court of Krishnadevaraya.

The Zanana Enclosure is a structural complex with tall enclosure walls on four sides with entrances at northeast and north. The structures in this enclosure are in Indo-Islamic style of architecture. The structures are judicially spaced exemplifying manifestations of Vijayanagara secular architecture.

The Treasury Building: This rectangular building identified as the treasury stands at the north of the enclosure and is made of brick and has nice deDSC01060sign on its top. Currently, it is modified as a small museum and holds beautiful sculptures and some very old inscriptions on stone slabs. It also contains utensils, water flasks, ports and coins of the Vijayanagar era found in the area. It also contains pictures of the monuments of Hampi taken by well known historians and officials of the East India Company. 

The Queen’s Palace: This ornate terraced building stands in the middle of the Zanana enclosure and would have been magnificent in those days. All that remains today is the basement which is very strong in construction survived the wear and tear of centuries.

The flDSC01104oor of the palace stands at a height of almost 10 feet marking its importance among other buildings in the vicinity. There are two levels of basement before the floor of the palace. The panels on the basement are carved with nice designs and are still intact. Although cracks have formed in the stone basement, it is still very hard. There is a small staircase to the floor and is guarded by two stone elephants. Understandably, this palace bore the brunt of the invaders and its glory lost.

To the east of the palace, there is a Jal Mahal, probably one of the buildings meant for the queen. It was also taken down and the basement is the one remaining. There is also a tank which was probably used for storage for the inhabitants. As there are no steps to the bottom of the tank, this would not have been an bath.

To the east of the Jal Mahal, is one of the most beautiful monuments of Hampi, the Lotus Mahal.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

As we move on towards the Royal Enclosure, we start seeing old palace basements and towers. We feel a bit of emptiness as we move here. The buildings that once stood elegantly are no longer there. They are barren, filled with bushes and partly unexcavated. DSC01002

Guard Tower: The first monument that comes across is the guard tower. The tower is in a typical Mohammadean architecture and still intact. It is built with stone and from its top, one can keep a watch on the road leading to the Royal Enclosure.

The tower has narrow steps to its upper floor and and would have been protected round the clock . There is space to house at least 20 soldiers inside. It has curved arches inside making it look beautiful from inside.

The Mint Compound: The GDSC01010uard Tower secures the entrance to the Mint Compound. This is the place where the currency was minted. Obviously, this place bore the brunt of the invaders. Only thing we see today are remains of broken walls. The building must have been huge and well protected, each of the sections well divided. The basement of the building is still intact.

At a distance from the mint building inside the enclosure, there are a Mosque and a pavilion. There are fortified walls between the Mint and the inner buildings. The area is filled with bushes and there is no tourist activity. It is better not to venture alone to the Mosque area.

The Dannayaka’s Enclosure: Just near the mint compound on the other side, thDSC01081ere is a view point. You need to climb some big steps to reach to the top of a stone from which we can have  view of the entire area. The Dannayaka’s (General of the army) enclosure is a vast area with the residential structures of the army generals.

As any other structure in the Royal Enclosure, these buildings are also taken down and only the empty basements and walls are left out. Imagining the glorious days the area and its people had seen, our eyes will definitely be moistened.  Excavations are sill on to bring the DSC01085un-explored parts of the enclosure to light.

Granaries: Just after the View point and towards the entrance of the Royal Enclosure, we find three round granaries that were used to store pulses and paddy for distribution for people in need. They have also been taken down and only remains are the outer structure of the granaries. They should have been really big considering their size.

The buildings described above just gives us a glimpse of the massive constructions which lie ahead inside the Royal Enclosure.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chandikeswara Temple: Datable to 16th century AD. facing east, this temple on plan has a sanctum vestibule, a Mahamantapa on north, south and east and a Mukhamantapa. The pillars of the Mukhamantapa have rearing lions trampling elephants and Vyala sculptures. Most of the relief’s on the pillars in this temple have Vaishnava representations like Hanuman, Garuda, Balakrishna, Kamadhenu, Srinivasa, Vamana, Yashoda churning the milk etc. DSC00984

The Garbhagriha has a Pitha carved with the figure of Garuda. The brick - mortar super structure over the Garbhagriha is treated with stucco representation of Vaishnava sculptures. To the north-west, is the Amman shrine. A pillared cloister runs around the two shrines. The bas relief’s of Vaishnava affinity found on the pillars indicate that the temple was originally dedicated to Vishnu.

Comparatively, this is a smaller shrine than others but it has the same elegant architecture that the other major temples have.

Uddana Veerabhadra Temple: This temple of Veerabhadra located south east of the Chandikeswara Temple is known as Mudduviranna temple as per the inscription and was consecrated by Dalavayi Jangamayya in 1545 AD. The temple as a spacious Garbhagriha, an Antarala and pillared Mukhamantapa.

The image of Chaturbhuja Veerabhadra 16 feet high is by far the largest image of Veerabhadra of Vijayanagar period found aDSC00995t Hampi. The image of Veerabhadra well sculpted bears bow and arrow in the upper right and left hands and the lower hands bear sword and shield. At extreme right is the goad headed Dakshabrahma.

The statue of Veerabhadra is black in colour and stands elegant. The visitor gets a good feeling when he/she enters inside the inner shrine. The same statue installed in 1545 AD. is still the main idol and it has not lost its charm. Photography is prohibited inside the shrine and that’s the reason i do not have any.

The one thing that is not understood is why this and the Virupaksha temple have not been raided. I assume that the reason could be that the invaders have not recognized the deities. Deities like Rama, Krishna or Vishnu are easily identified while a Sivalinga and Veerabhadra cannot be.

Akka Tangi Gundu:  These naturally formed stones called Akka Tangi Gundu (Twin Sister Stones) are a wonder in Hampi. Two huge boulders are inclined towards each other leaving a big gap between them at the base.

It is a nice place for having photographed. The top of the stones are filled wiDSC00997th cobwebs and bats; a reason to be very careful.

Just before the Akka Tangi Gundu, we can see the outer perimeter walls of the Royal Enclosure. The walls are made with blocks of granite and still intact after centuries.

Prasanna Virupaksha (Underground Siva) Temple: This temple known as Prasanna Virupaksha Temple in inscriptions is popularly known as the underground temple simply because the roof of the temple is with the present ground level since it is in a low lying area.

The temple has a Garbhagriha, aligned with an Antarala, and Ardhamantapa and a Mahamantapa. The Mahamantapa has pillared corridors fused with the pillared Mukhamantapa making a larger pillared frontal Mantapa which also encloses a Dwajasthamba. The pillars of theDSC02852 temple are plain. The temple stylically dated to 14th century. An inscription referring to this temple states that Krishnadevaraya donated Nagalapura and other villages for worship and offering to the God for the merit of his parents, Narasanayaka and Nagajidevi.

As you see in the picture, the main temple is in a low lying area. Water stagnates the area from the inner sanctum till half of the Mukhamantapa 24x7 making it more spiritual as in our feel will automatically be cleaned before having the darshan. Once we cross the Mukhamantapa and move further, the place is dark and bats prowl inside and there have been incidents that a group of bats attack at a time.

Just in front of the inner sanctum, you can find the Nandi bull. Inside the inner sanctum, there is a small Sivalinga on a pedestal.

Moving along, we enter the Royal Enclosure

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lakshmi Narasimha: This magnificent monolithic Lakshmi Narasimha, the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, stands at a height of 6.7mts.. It is one of the finest examples of Vijayanagara sculpture. Narasimha is seated on the giant coil of Adishesha, the sacred guardian snake of Lord VishDSC02822nu, its seven hoods acting as a canopy, arched by a Kirtimukha torana in front.

The roof of the chamber enshrining the statue is missing, which had led to much weathering and damage to this monolithic sculpture. The four arms of the statue with its various attributes, have been broken, and the seated figure of his consort, Lakshmi, on his left lap, is missing. The face too has been damaged, which misled people in believing that it was the Ugranarasimha or angered Narasimha. The presence of the right hand of the goddess, embracing the Lord at the back, is the proof of it being Lakshmi Narasimha.

The statue, was consecrated by priest Krishnabhatta on the behest of Krishnadevaraya in 1528 A.D., as  per the lithic record nearby.

Badavilinga Temple: This 3 mts. high, large Sivalinga is also a monolith similar to Lakshmi Narasimha carved out of one rock in sDSC00977itu, the pedestal remains in a bed of water, within a small damaged shrine. Referred to as the Badavilinga, legend has it, that it was commissioned by a poor woman.

The Siva Linga as a fairly large pedestal(yoni pitha), drawing into a pranala (outlet). The central median line (somasutra) has the three-eye mark, drawn in line carving. The sanctum chamber that houses it, is a large stone, brick and mortal structure.

The water that is passed in to the shrine comes directly from the Tungabhadra river through small canals and aqueducts. Locals believe that if you throw a coin towards the Idol and wish for something, your wish will be fulfilled if the coin lands on the head of the Wish

From here, we move on to the Chandikeswara Temple.