Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Hampi, Karnataka - a World Heritage Site : Part 1 of 3

Hampi is situated on the south bank of the river Tungbhadra approx 350 Km from Bangalore. Nearest railway station is 15 km away in Hospet in Bellary district of Karnataka. The river was earlier known as Pampa which became Hampe in Kannada & got anglicised to Hampi.

This village Hampi is situated in erstwhile capital city of Vijaynagar Empire which covered vast tracts of southern India. The Empire was established by two brothers Harihara ( or commonly known as Hakka ) & Bukka Raya in 1363 under guidance of their guru Madhava Vidyarnya. The mighty Empire in its peak time extended from river Krishna to Kanyakumari and from Goa to Odisha.

In ancient times the area was known as Pampa-kshetra, Kishikindha-kshetra or Bhaskara-kshetra. Later it has also been mentioned as Virupakshpura as Virupaksha was the patron deity of Vijaynagara Kings. 

The Empire suffered a major defeat in the year 1565 at the hands of confederation of Deccan sultanates. Thereafter the Empire weakened considerably & collapsed by 1646.   

Hampi is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites in India. It is a charismatic capital town even in ruins. Large boulders strewn across the landscape, in valleys & on surrounding hills make the backdrop of Hampi unique. Spread around are hundreds of small & large monuments. These include magnificent temples, palaces, pavilions, ancient markets, army quarters, aqua-ducts & water tanks. The list is of monuments in Hampi is endless. This may be called an open museum of a large prosperous capital city which saw glorious days for two centuries from 1363 AD to 1565 AD. 

Trade with foreign countries had increased considerably at the time via Calicut port. Many traders & visitors have recorded about the wealth, culture, architecture, food & life style prevalent at the time in Vijaynagara Empire. Some of them are Abdul Rezzak from Herat who visited in 1443, Nicolo Conti of Italy who visited during 1420, Portuguese traveller Domingo Paes who stayed in the Empire during 1520-22, Portuguese horse trader Fernao Nuniz who was here in 1536-37, Cesare Frederici of Italy who visited in 1567 and Colonel Colin Mackenzie of Scotland who visited in 1799.  

If you love history & have strong legs as they say locally, you can spend weeks in Hampi. The ruined Capital is spread over hilly terrain of 26 sq. km. Bicycles, motorbikes, tonga, golf carts etc are also available in the town on rental basis for excursions. Every turn of the way & every hill holds a surprise for you. 
Some photos:

Monolith statue of Lakshmi Narsimha 6.7m in height built in 1528. This is fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu sitting on the coils of Adishesha Nag with its seven faced hood as canopy. Seated figure of Lakshmi on left lap has since been lost

Huge 3 m high monolith linga - Badavailinga

Carved pillars of Prassana Virupaksha Temple. Such pillars are found in all buildings of Hampi.

Entrance of Prassana Virupaksha (underground Siva) Temple

Side view of the Siva temple

Small & large statues kept in open in office complex of Archaeological Survey of India, Hampi

Massive stone doors to the Royal Enclosure lie damaged. These were moved with the help of elephants.

Mahanavami Dibba on the top of which sat King & his family 
8m high, 35 sq m at the top, Mahanavami Dibba is part of Royal Enclosure. Upon the Dibba sat the kings & royal families & watched the proceedings on festivals like Ramanavami

One of the many water storage tanks

Network of water supply channels ensured perennial supply

These stone plates were used to serve food to the wrestlers during festival shows 
Step well in Royal Enclosure used by royal family

Layout with wide pathways & open spaces for the elite

Up to ceiling level the temples were of stone & above that mortar & bricks were used 
Wide pathways & temples everywhere

View from the another platform in Royal Enclosure

Kuduregombe Mandapa

Pushkarni. A small temple in the water tank

Battery operated vehicles are available at some spots

Talarighatta Gate in rear view mirror

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