Sunday, November 22, 2009

As we move on the road from the KSTDC Hotel, we reach the Bhima’s Gate.

The Bhima’s Gate was probably one of the entrances of the kingdom as the DSC01316area on the other end of the gate is barren with little habitation. This entrance is big with fortified walls of at least 20 feet. The wall or the entrance itself is plain except for two small carvings of a story of Mahabharata due to which this is named so.

Here on the wall, DSC01319 we see two similar carvings where Draupadi is tying her hair while Bhima is killing Kichaka. This sequence tells about the story where Draupadi vows that she will tie her hair only when Kichaka, who tries to molest her is killed. There is an idol of Bhima also in here.

We then move on to the Ganagitti Jain Temple.

This Jain temple complex,dedicated to Kunthunatha, the 17th DSC01324Thirthankara of the Jaina faith, was built by Iruga, Commander-in-chief of Harihara II, and consecrated in 1386 AD..

The huge lamp column at the North facing entrance has an inscription to this effect. It is also referred to as the Kunthunatha Jain temple. It is a typical example of early Vijayanagara architecture and is known for its simplicity of form and design, DSC01331 with influences from the Late Chalukya period.

The temple in elevation has a terraced super structure over the sanctum, and a porch to the North and East.

As mentioned in a previous post, the Jain temples are very simple in their architecture and it goes the same with this one. There two halls before the inner sanctum and we can find the stone pedestal on which the idol once stood. Nearby on on of the platforms, we can find foot marks which signifies the marks of the Thirthankara.

We then move on on the same road after travelling 2 kilometres, there is a sDSC01341ign board to the Vijaya Vittala temple. We take the left road and move ahead to the Talarighatta Gate.

The Talarighatta Gate was one of the main entrance points into the urban centre of the capital from the riverside. The main road to Talarighatta (the coracle ferry point near the suspension bridge, which was stopped in middle as per UNESCO regulations) from Kamalapura pass through this arched structure.

This largely damaged structure still maintains its original intent, a gateway on the main road. A tiny shrine of Hanuman is located just in front of the gate.

It is possibleDSC01342 to reach the top of this gateway. From there the traces of the extended fortifications are visible. Talarighatta means Toll Gate, probably its original intension. In those days, there would be guards that that stand on top and the side pavilions and collect toll from people who wish to enter the area.

We pass through the gate and move towards the Gejjala Mantapa.

The Gejjala Mantapa is a small pavilion but a very beautiful one with its exquisite design. It was used once as a Rangamantapa (dancing hall) for conducting various music and dance festivals. Each of the pillars is excellently carved and shows us the craftsmanship of the age. Even the ceiling is designed with different shapes and bells. DSC01348

We then move on to the Kuduregombe Mantapa.

The Kuduregombe Mantapa is different than any other pavilion that we see in the Hampi area. As mentioned before, the entrance of any temple is guarded by elephants, lions and crocodiles.  This temple is an exception where the entrance is  guarded by horses and riders on top of them. This temple gets the name due to the horses (Kuduregombe means horse riders in Kannada). We exactly do not know to which deity this temple is dedicDSC01349ated to. The sanctum is empty but with a pedestal and the ceiling broken and sunlit during the day. This is a nice place to relax for some time escaping from the scorching heat of the sun. The presence of horses in place of elephants indicates that this temple was probably built by or for the traders of the Vijaya Vitthala Bazaar to worship, especially for those who were probably not allowed in the larger temples due to their caste or occupational restrictions.

We move on to the most beautiful of all the temples and monuments of Hampi, the Vijaya Vitthala temple.

There are three sites to visit in Kamalapur and all three are important. Kamalapur is a small village with insufficient facilities for food. So it is better eat in Hampi and then move over there. The first place that one can visit is the Kamalapura Museum. This is one big museum where there are lots of thiDSC01237ngs to see. This is the only place where one can see a life like image of Sri Krishnadevaraya.

One needs to allocate at least a hour and a half for the museum. As we enter the museum, there is a lawn on the right and left sides and the building is in the front. Sculptures found in the area are arranged in the lawn on the left. In the middle of the lawn, there is a small pavilion (sculptures arranged to form a pavilion) in which there is a small statue of Lord Ganesha.  There are many beautiful sculptures in the lawn. You can see some of them in the pictures below.

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The one that you see here is a plate on which food was served. In those days, there were no separate utensils of serving food. One of the portions of the floor was made like a container to serve food. The various items would be placed on each of the smaller enclosures. There is a place in Hampi that i could not find, called “Bhojanasala” where there are a numerous of these plates are carved on rock and that place was used to serve food for public. There are DSC01258various sculptures that are broken in pieces and are found lying around.

Domingo Paes, who visited the kingdom during the reign of Sri Krishnaderaya has written in his narrative a lot about the kingdom, the culture, the festivals and of course the king himself. The following is an excerpt from his notes which describes Krishnadevaraya as seen by Domingo Paes himself.

“The King is of medium height, and of fair complexion and good figure, rather fat than thin; he has on his face signs of small-pox. He is most feared and perfect king that could possibly be cheerful of disposition and very merry; he is one that seeks to honour foreigners, and receives them kindly asking them all about their affairs whatever their condition may be. He is a great ruler and a man of justice, but subject to sudden fits of DSC01272rage, and this is his title - Crisnarao (Krishnaraya) Macacao (probably Maharaj), King of Kings, Lord of the greater Lords of India, Lord of three seas and of the land…”

Inside  the museum one can find very beautiful sculptures, weapons, coins and utensils of the era. There are photographs of the important places in Hampi taken before and after excavation. We should really appreciate the work of the ArcheDSC01273ological Survey of India (ASI) for giving us this priceless heritage. There is also a board which shows us the transformation of Kannada and Telugu languages over the years.

Probably the most interesting section is right in the middle of the museum where there is a miniature depiction of the whole Hampi area. Every hill, temple and pavilion is marked on it.  The museum is a must visit to any one who visits Hampi.

As we move on, one need to travel at least 2 kilometres to reach the next destination, the Pattabhirama Temple.

This temple, situated in the Varadarajammanapattana a suburb of the aDSC01280ncient city of Vijayanagara is supposed to have built by Timmaraja in 1540 AD. during the rule of Achyutharaya. The temple complex has a large courtyard enclosed by a high Prakara. The main temple has a Garbhagriha, an Antarala, Ardhamantapa and an Mahamantapa. The large and square Mahamantapa has tall and slender pillars of different types. 

The Kalyanamantapa situated to the southeast in the complex is similar to the Mahamantapa.

The DevDSC01284i shrine facing east is a Dvitala vimana surmounted by Shala shikara. The Mahadwara of this temple is a good example for the late Vijayanagara style of architecture. The Mahadwara has an imposing pyramidal brick. and lime plaster Gopura with ascending but diminishing, storeys.

Not many visitors throng this place as this area is quite far from the main Hampi area. The temple looks very silent and good during evenings where once can relax inside it. DSC01306 There is a pillared pavilion that runs all around the temple walls making it look even beautiful. The notable feature is the Kalyanamantapa where the entrance is guarded by elephants and crocodiles. The outside of the temple complex is covered with a beautiful lawn which is well maintained by the ASI. There is also the temple tank on one side where the main festivals of the temple are held every year.

The third important monument in Kamalapur is the Domed Gateway, but despite searching for an hour in bamboo plantations and reserve forests, i could not find it.

We now return back all the way to Hampi near to the KSTDC Hotel from where we started to Kamalapur and move towards other monuments…

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Queen’s Bath is located to the southeast of the royal enclosure, with its own separated enclosed space, consisting of a complex of changing rooms and a bath. At present only the bath is extant. A strikingly, simple facaded structure, in the Indo-Islamic style of Vijayanagara architecture, the interior of the bath is total contrast, with its ornate stucco and plaster work.DSC01201

The structure is 30 sq.mts., with a 15 sq.mts. bath inside, which is 1.8 mts. deep. Pillared and vaulted corridors run all around., with ornate balconies projecting into the bath. There is a water channel inlet to the East, and a moat that runs all around the structure that ensured a constant supply of fresh water. There are steps leading down to the floor of the bath to the North, and the remnants of four pillars in the centre, which probably supported a pavilion.

Looking at the Queen’s bath, we can imagine how it must have looked at its glory. The balconies would have been decorated with beautiful curtains and guarded heavily from outside. The water inside should have been of nice fragrances and filled with rose petals.  We then move to the ChandraDSC01210sekhara Temple which is at a distance from the main road.

Chandrasekhara Temple: This is a double shrined temple of typical Dravida style datable to 16th century, AD. The Garbhagrihas are located to the west and north, each has an Antarala and an Ardhamantapa which opens into a common Sabhamantapa at east and south. There is a Mukhamantapa open on three sides. The basement is decorated with Tripatta Kumuda moulding. The walls are gracefully adorned with Kumbha Panjaras. There are two terraced brick-mortar super structures over the sanctums. There is also a Devi shrine facing south in the complex, whiDSC01218ch is similar to the above two shrines. 

The temple complex has a spacious courtyard with Prakara and a main entrance with a Gopura from east. The Gopura is well sculpted with dancing girls and good designs. Other than that, there is not much of craftsmanship in this temple and all the sculptures are very raw and unpolished. But the complex is big and it was probablDSC01227y one of the most visited temples in those days.

Then there is the Octagonal Water Pavilion which was used to provide water to the nearby buildings and temples. There is a Saraswathi temple which is in a bad shape now and also we can find some basements of big buildings which were of importance, probably offices of the various departments. 

We now move leave the village of Hampi for some time and move to the town of Kamalapur which houses the famous museum and some very beautiful temples.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Royal enclosure, the nucleus of the capital city of Vijayanagara is the largest extant enclosures in the ancient city occupying an area of 59,000 sq.mts. and protected by lofty double walls. The enclosure had housed as many as forty three buildings. DSC02993

The enclosure has three entrances, two on the north and one on the west. The northern entrance east of  the Audience Hall was the main entrance with well - guarded massive doorways arranged zig-zag on plan. The other northern entrance with flight of steps near Mahanavami Dibba platform had a doorway with exquisitely carved monolithic temple type door flaps. The western entrance leads to a passage that connects Hazararama temple on the north.

DSC02980 Entering the enclosure through the northern main entrance, there is a neatly plastered open courtyard and a pillared hall leading to a well decorated hall. To the south of this hall is the underground secret council chamber. To the southwest of the secret chamber was the Kings residence with as many as nine chambers including a Pooja room.

To the west and northeast of the residence were many structures. It is interesting to note that a flight of steps used to lead from a chamber to the first floor of the King’s audience hall.DSC02981

To the east of the palace complex is the sacred area including a large open courtyard with well plastered floor, accommodating at the center a Homa Kunda and a tank. The two structures with a decorative plinth on the south of the sacred area were the residences of queens. 

The long rectangular pillared halls in a row arranged in units of two separated by a wide avenue on the south of the Palace complex were probably the residences of the people working in the palace complex. Water was bought to this enclosure from an external source thrDSC01054ough a main aqueduct running in the middle feeds 23 small and big tanks in the enclosure.

The so-called Public Bath located at the south eastern corner is the largest tank in the enclosure. However the most ornamental of the tanks is the Stepped tank located north of the public bath. Every ornamental member of this tank bears a mason mark indicating the exact location of the member in the construction. There is another “T” shaped tank in front of the Mahanavami Dibba platform. There is also a well in the enclosure.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monuments can be a very simple construction, but extremely beautiful due to their symmetrical construction. The Stepped Tank is one of theDSC01052 finest examples of this category. It is quite simple in construction, but looks wonderful due to the way the steps are arranged. It is a very large at the opening and gets narrow as we get down to the bottom. Its also dangerous as the steps are small and any slip from it will result in the person tumbling down to the bottom. There is ample security at the tank not to allow any person to step down. This tank must have been a special place to the King as it is placed in the center of the Royal Enclosure.

There is another monument which is near the stepped tank and very important because it witnessed the glory of the kingdom every day. It is the Mahanavami Dibba. This pyramidal, three tiereDSC01050 d stone platform, rising to a height of 8 mts, is located to the northeast of the Royal Enclosure. It was one of the most important ceremonial structures of royal use, built in granite, and subsequently encased in sculptured schist stone. It is dated to circa 16th century AD.

The terraced platform is nearly 35 sq. mts. and has an approach flights of steps on the East, West and South. The southern flight of steps has a sculptured balustrade that opens on the West. The western flight of steps are located almost in the center of the platform, and the two eastern flights of steps have a common chamber, which opens on the East. Each tier of the platform has sculpted mouldings in the typical Vijayanagara style or architecture. The lower tier has low relief sculptural friezes depicting the socio-cultural activities of the time.

The extant pillar bases in the center of the platform indicate the pDSC02979resence of a pavilion. There are references to the use of the platform by the royal family, for important festivals like Mahanavami, by Abdul Razak and Domingo Paes, visitors to this Vijayanagara city, in 1520 AD. and 1442-43 AD., respectively.

Domingo Paes, who visited the Vijayanagara Kingdom during the reign of Sri Krishnadevaraya described the Mahanavami Dibba and the three day Dussera celebrations held here. The pavilion on the platform used to be decorated with Silk curtains and beautiful carpets. Every common man of the kingdom used to have new clothes for the occasion. Buffaloes were lined up and sacrificed for the Gods to bless the occasion to be a success. Human sacrifice was also prevalent.

From here, we move towards some important monuments…

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Horse’s Stables are a series of square constructions which housed the hDSC01191orses of the king and his body guards. The basements are still existing and they clearly make us feel the kind of buildings that existed once. There are aqueducts that lead to the stables. There is a very long monolithic stone trough from which the horses of the King’s visitors used to drink water. This trough is not directly visible as we pass on the road, but it is behind a wall in front of the Horses’ stables.  There are some other unidentified buildings near the stables but we do not know much about them.

There is an Underground Chamber in this vicinity where the king used to have seDSC01057cret meetings. There are two entrances to it and each of it would have been guarded by multiple soldiers. The chamber is totally dark inside and there is a small room in the middle for 4 - 5 people to have secret meetings. This would have probably been used for the DSC01047King to meet important spies and for war meetings. Near the underground chamber, there is the a palace basement which would probably been of the King. 

There are aqueducts all through this area for water to reach the buildings and tanks within. Then there is the King’s Palace of which the basement is left out. Two elephant statues guard the entrance and as mentioned in one of the posts, they too bore the brunt of the invasion, trunks being cut off. There are numerous other building, but we exactly do not know their importance. We move on to two important monuments in the Royal Enclosure.