Sunday, 2 October 2016

Hampi - a World Heritage Site: Part 3 of 3

Iconic stone chariot of Hampi

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. Nearest airport is in Hubli about 145 km. 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: 

9 storied Gopuram leads to huge Virupaksha Temple complex which has grown from a cluster of small temples of 7th century AD. It is said to be the oldest functional temple in Hampi. On either side of the approach road is Hampi Bazar under restoration

Pillars in Vittala Temple complex are studded with engravings & carvings based on stories of Ramayana & Mahabharata. Here Krishna has taken away the clothes of womenfolk bathing in the river & has climbed up a tree. They are requesting him to return the clothes

Bali & Sugriva

Lakshmi Narsimha

Counting the teeth of the horse before buying from a Persian horse trader 

Persian horses were premium items for the elite

Their beards, head gears & clothing suggests that they were from South / Central Asia 

Riding a mythical creature. This creature has been used as a emblem of the Empire

Snake charmer

Tiger attacks 

Lord Krishna playing flute & the cows listening with rapt attention

Krishna enjoying butter while mother Yashoda is churning 

Training in progress
Gajjela Mandapa. Not much is known about the purpose & usage of many such stand alone structures

A unique engraving 

Front view of Stone Chariot. The two elephants placed in front of chariot are a later date addition. Originally the chariot was attached to horses

Side view of iconic Stone Chariot used as logo by Karnataka Tourism. All around the platform are mythical battle scenes

Ranga Mantapa - a hall for festivities.  Beautiful decorations on plinth stones, pillars & ceiling are seen in geometrically  perfect design

Rider on mythical creature at the entrance

These thin stone pillars are hollow inside & if struck with wooden stick, generate musical sounds. Dozens of them were said to have been played simultaneously during festivities 

Well laid wide streets & corridors. Another temple & market

Cool corridors on raised platforms

Madhava Ranga Temple constructed in 1545 

Ganigitti Jain Temple. An 'oil women's' temple built in 1386. As per inscription on the Deep Stumbh the temple was commissioned by Irugua (Iruguppa) commander-in-chief of King Harihara II. It is dedicated to Lord Kunthunath the 17th Jain Tirthankara. There is no idol inside the temple.

Some structure on the banks of Tungbhadra get submerged during monsoon. Many more might have sunk in sand & mud over centuries

Inside the Bhima Gate. On the walls are engravings of Draupdi & slaying of Kichchika & Dushasana by Bhima

Bhima Gate. Just in front of entry is another stone wall which is in fact an obstruction for intruders. After entering the gate one turns right, then left & again left to enter the city. 

View from right side of Vittala Temple complex. There are hundreds of such standing pillars & hundreds of them in broken state strewn all over Hampi. Enormous amount of funds & man-days must have gone in to sculpting these. Boulders small & large, give a unique backdrop    

Talarighatta Gate of the capital city Vijayanagara

Entry to the Vittala temple complex. Inside are extravagant show pieces, magnificent works of art on pillars, walls, ceilings & the iconic stone chariot  

For more photos of Hampi you may please click on the following links:

Hampi, Karnataka -a World Heritage site: part 1 of 3

Hampi - a World Heritage site: Part 2 of 3

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