Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Hampi - a World Heritage Site: Part 2 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 Tungbhadra 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: 

Mandapa inside Hazararama Temple

Such pillared Mandapas are spread all over 

Wall surrounding Hazararama Temple

Enclosure wall decorated with engravings of animals, dancers & social scenes

Persian horse traders & above that are women fighters 

Ornate stone pillars, ceilings & on top is brick & mortar wall decorated with figures of kings & idols of Gods

Decoration on the plinth stones 
King Dashrath targeting a deer on the assumption that sound is of an animal drinking water whereas it is in fact Shravana who is filling his pitcher with water after sun set

Lord Rama, Laxmana & Sita leaving for forest. Hundreds of such engravings are there depicting stories from Ramayana

Lord Rama with Lakshmana & guru Drona meeting Ahilya

Various stories from Ramayana

Lotus Mahal( Kamal Mahal or Chitragni Mahal ) in the Zanana Enclosure. Perfect in geometrical lines, designed for comfort in all weathers. Seems to be a socialising centre for women

Well decorated Mughal style Mehrab
Queen's Bath. The pool building has no roof & is surrounded by a canal to stop intruders & to supply water inside the pool. A pleasure area for the royals

Corridor in Mughal style Mehrabs

One of the many watch towers

Elephant Stable. Eleven royal elephants in the army of king Krishnadeva Raya were housed here

Residential quarters near Elephant Stable now converted in to a museum

For more photos you may please click on the following link:
Hampi, Karnataka - a World Heritage site: part 1 of 3

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