Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hampi - Vijayanagara Marvel ! Part II

Hope you enjoyed the Part I of our Journey ….lets continue our unravelling of Hampi with Part II
We continued our unraveling of Hampi with the visit to the Royal center which was the area used by Royals of the Vijayanagara Empire.

Royal Enclosure

Basement of the wooden palace inside the royal enclosure

First monument we visited in the Royal enclosure was the Zenana (in Persian : “area seculed for women”). Its a rectangular fortified area surrounded by watch towers two of which are remaining at this point in time. Once you enter you can see the basement of the two palaces on either side beloging to the Queens Tirumala Devi and Chinna Devi. A huge wooden structure used to be above this basement which was destroyed during conquest of Hampi. In comparison to other huge palaces in India these palaces seems very small and very basic idea behind such move was probably to have a better connect of the royals with the people. Even Krishnadevaraaya’s palace which we visited later was not so huge as we would imagine of palce of a king such stature.

Lotus Mahal

Remants of a watch tower and note the high rise wall as well

Once you proceed further, comes the Lotus Mahal which was used as a place to rest during the summer by royals. The lotus Mahal and the watch towers present a fusion of Indo – Islamic architecture. The lotus Mahal has arrangements for the water to stored inside the structure. Water is slowly sprinkled inside the building structure thereby bringing down the temperature. There is also a exit pipe avaialbe to drain the excess water.

Elephant Stable

Stable for the royal elephants

Behind the Lotus Mahal are the elephant stables, the 11 royal elepahants of Krishna Deva Raya were housed here. The structure of the stables is so designed that elephants above 32 years can’t enter the structure. It is said that elephants are the most productive during their 19-32 years of age this was a sort of Poka-Yoke(For the IT junta – It means fool proofing). The dome of the stables are built to reflect Hindu, Islamic and Jain beliefs. This was bascially done to preserve the relegious fabric as there were good amount of Muslim soldiers in the army.
On the left side of the elephants stables is the structure used to house mahouts.

Hazara Rama Temple

Inside the Hazara Rama temple


Scenes from Ramayana on the inner walls of the temple

Scenes from Ramayana

Outer wall of the temple

Five tiered depiction of scenes

Next we proceeded to the Hazara Rama Temple used as a private temple by the Royals. This temple doesnt have a bazaar unlike the temples in the Sacred Center and is centrally placed inside the Royal center which conveys the impotance this temple. Hazara means a enclosure and should not be confused for the number 1000. This temple is dedicated to Lord Rama was built in the 15th Century by Deva Raya. The Exernal wall of the temple has five tiers of base reliefs carrying depiction of procession of Elephants, Horses, his infantry men and best of dancers performing the art.
The interior of the temple carries incidents from Rayamayna thought the temple. Incidents in the story like Dasaratha performing a sacrifice to beget sons, the birth of Rama, his exile into the forest, the abduction of Sita and the ultimate fight between Rama and Ravana are all carved in a vivid manner. The walls also carry the events from Bhagavath Gita.
The mandap before the sanctum has four pillars of black stone and are believed to be the only ones of this nature present in India. The depictions on the interior and exterior walls leaves you spell bound and you need hours together putting them together recalling each of the instances of the great epic Ramayana. A sprawling garden is maintained across the temple and carved walls and the green landscape are a treat to the eyes.

Stone doors

Further proceeding inside the Royal enclosure, this peculiar things caught our eyes – as set of huge stone doors with pivots and door bolts made to perfection. If a door was to be built with so much toil , think of the main structure that could have accomodated it. Many a times throught our journey Hampi kept amazing me with its grandeour and if ruins can take to such levels i cant even imagine the experience visiting Hampi during its glorius years under Krishnadevaraya.

Mahanavami dibba

Mahanavami dibba - huge stage structure

Carvings at the base structure of the stage

Next big structure awaiting to amaze us was the Mahanavami dibba, its huge multilayered stone stage structure used by Krishnadevaray to view the processions during the Navarathri celebrations which according to our guide were on a very grand scale and bigger than the Mysore Navarathri celebrations. This structure also known as the House of Victory was built to commemrate the victory over the kingdom of Orissa. During the Navarathri celebrations King used to witness the parade of Dancers and performers of various art forms, cavalcade of horses, royal animals etc. Depiction of the scenes from the parade is found on all sides of the structure. On close observation keen eyes can even catch the depcition of people from foreign land who used to participate being depicted along with parade of animals and hunting scenes on the periphery of the structure.

Aquactic structures

Acqua ducst to bring water from teh kamalapura tank

Next in the Royal enclosure is a series of aquactic structures which served various purposes. As you enter the area you can see a series of acquducts which brought water from the Kamalapura tank. One thing to be noted at this stage is that river Tungabadhra’s water was not used for drinking purposes due to its high iron ore content and the Huge tank at Kamalapura was built to serve this purpose. The location of these tanks which were fed by the tank is such that water from tank can flow down due to law of gravity itself.

Stepped Tank

The stepped tank which is one of masterpieces among the aquactic structures stands a towering example of the engineering skill of the masons of the ersthwhile empire. The tank is made of black schist stones perfectly put together and was used to perform relegious ceremonies. One more interesting info provided by our guide was the the discovery of this tank was made by chance on observing the position of aquaducts in this are ending at the place.

The Royal swimming pool

The next aquatic strucute which was the Royal swimming pool 70 m in length and some 20 m wide was proving to be no big surprise as by the end of the day we had got accustomed to the surprises Hampi had to offer in plenty.
It was evening and having borne the peak summer heat in Hampi for the whole day, it was time to put curtains on day 1.
At the end of our first day i would describe this place as a marvel beyond any words and offering the curious brains a plethora of sights, information and imagination which resonate in your mind every time you hear the word "Hampi".

Day 2 ....

We stayed at Hospet for the night started of at 8:15 AM towards Hampi to cover as much as possible that we could as we had planned to leave after lunch by 1 PM. Our guide chose the locations accordingly and the first monument of visit was the Kadlekalu Ganesha made of a single stone 15 feet tall and got the name due to the stomach of Ganesh in this strucute resemlbing the bengal gram called Kadalekalu in the local language.

Kadlekalu Ganesha

Our next planned palce of visit was the Anjana Parvath I(Hill Temple) believed to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman. We took a boat to cross Tungabadhra to reach the other side of the river called Virupapur Gadde area. There are no bridges available across the river in this areas as this being a UNESCO world heritage site, restrictions have been imposed by the organization on building structures which would enable rampant growth of tourism supporting infrastructure like Five start hotels on the other side of the river which would put to danger the eco system sorrounding the historical site.Virupapur area has lot of cottages and hotels which offer accomodation at prices lower than the Hampi area and the area is very quiet in comparison to the hustle in the area sorrounding the Virupaksha temple.After crossing the river we walked for a Km to reach the main road and caught a share auto for the next 5 Kms of our journey.

Anajana Parvath

View from the Anjana Parvath of the Hampi area

This temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman was built before the dynastic rule started in Hampi by the Kakatiya rulers and a we saw lot of people from the Northern Part of India who had come all the way to visit the birth place of the Maruthi.The temple situated on the top of the hill is accesible through a flight of 45o stairs and is infested by the army of Maruthi sevaks also called as Monkeys. Our guide got us a stick to safeguard ourselves in case if we were disturbed by the Hanuman sevaks. Hill being steep it took us good 30 mins and 2 small breaks to reach shrine. We had our darshan and the view from the hill of Hampi was amazing. We started to identify the monuments that were visible like the Vittala temple, the virupaksha temple and the sprwwling bazaars which we had seen the day before. This view gave us a good idea of the overall topography of hampi which was seculed by river on one side and the might mountains on the other making it a perfect capital. The landscape as well is very varied with the green fields filling the are between the heap of boulders which the mountain look like. We descended quickly took the boat back and this time accompanied by two wheelers and crossed on to the Hampi side of the river.

Sasivekalu Vinayaka

Rear side of the statue, you can see Parvathi holding Vinayaka from behind

Our next visit was to the Sasivekalu (Mustard) Ganesha measuring about 8 feet made out of a single stone. This statue was installed by a Mustard merchant which lead to the addition of the word "Musturd" to our beloved Ganesh statue. One very peculiar thing about this statue is that, on the rear side its carved to potray Parvathi holding Ganesh and you can identify it easily with the arrangement tied hair typical of female. Out of box from a sculptor again and being the second day it was no big surprise !!

Hemakuta hill

Our last spot for the day and the trip was the Hemakuta hill which has a series of temples with a beautiful pyramid like roof structure resembling Jain architecture are wrongly understood to be Jain temples. In fact the temples date back to the Vijayanagara empire and are dedicated to Lord Shiva. From this hill the Virupaksha temple tower is visible and are also visible are the Krishna temple and Sasivekalu Ganesha temple.

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