Such rich heritage and architecture all bound in one place. No one leaves without astonishment and awe after witnessing all those marvelous architecture, culture and heritage that was once the Vijayanagar empire.
Each and every item needed for everyday life then is carved in stone - the weights, the massive doors, the beams, the Gods, the bells, the culverts, the canals, the plate to serve food, even the musical instruments are carved out of stone. You can see why - Vijayanagar is all surrounded by hills and mountains, barren and rocky. These mountains served as natural fortress and provided the much needed raw material - the stones. One one side is the much needed river Tungabhadra for civilization.
The town was made to be self-sufficient - temples, quarters, rest area for travelers, community hall, kitchen, bathing area, stables, wedding halls, recreation area, court of law, punishment yard and nobleman's quarters. You name it and they had it! Having read about the richness of Vijayanagara empire(precious stones being sold in bazaars and on roads heaped up like vegetables), I had this long waited wish to visit Hampi. It took me so long to finally experience the richness called Hampi.
The kingdom was so powerful that none of the kings lost their life in war battle; no one dared to wage war with them. Their death occurred due to diseases and old-age. Krishnadevaraya died due to gonorrhea; they were connoisseurs of women and art. This one weakness led to the decline of the Vijayanagar empire much later; when Krishnadevaraya's son-in-law fell for a wicked political conspiracy by the Deccan Muslim confederacy.
We spent one entire day at Hampi; yet left with lots more to explore. Hired a guide who told us a lot about its origin and the background of each temple and its architecture.
The Virupaksha temple complex. On the right is the group of Jain temples.
The Sasuvekalu Ganesha - sasuvekalu means 'mustard seeds' in Kannada. This monolithic stone has Ganesh in the foreground and behind is the carving of his mother Gauri.
The gopuram of the Virupaksha temple at a height of 49m. This temple predates the Vijayanagara empire. We could see musical instruments used during those period. The main God is Lord Shiva and this temple is still used for worship and thus is the oldest functioning temple in India since 7th century.
Inside the temple; at one corner at the rear is the inverted shadow of the gopuram - the pin-hole camera effect formed due to a slit on the wall.
The English restored major portion of the temple during their rule in India. One such instance is the beam installed here during the early 1900s to support the massive pillars. On closer look; you can make out the "Made in England" tag. Its strong and functional even to this day
Long before Michelangelo painted the ceilings of the Sistine Chapel, the people of Hampi had painted the ceilings of the Virupaksha temple with rich stories of the Ramayana with elaborate details. Its legible and clear even to this day. One can not help but marvel and your eyes can never say enough!
The world famous bazaar street where gold and precious stones were heaped up like vegetables in front of the Virupaksha temple. The Chinese traded silk for gold and precious stones while the Turks and Arabs traded horses with them. What we see now is a dusty lane showing no signs of splendor and pomp that it held once. Behind these makeshift shops are the centuries old buildings belonging to then era. Efforts are in progress by the ASI to reclaim them.
The Kadalekalu Ganesha - Kadalekalu meaning 'Bengal gram'. It denotes the belly of the Lord which resembles a Bengal gram. It is monolithic and the idol has been destroyed. The belly and the right hand were destroyed by the Muslim invaders. The effort to restore by ASI was challenged by the Kannada poet Shivaram Karanth. He was against restoration so that the generations after us never missed the history and its originality.
Remains of foundation of what earlier housed quarters for travelers and noblemen. Travelers came from far away lands. They were well taken care.
Lotus Mahal temple. Served as a recreation area for royal women. Its architecture and decorations are a curious mix of Hindu and Islamic style.
Elephant stables. The mid one has a Dravidian style gopuram. Found alternatively are the Islamic and Jain style gopurams - Nonreligious and secular.
Hazara Rama temple complex - carvings of the story of Ramayana.
Well laid aqueducts and canals to supply water through the town.
Remains of what used to be the palace. The palace was built of wood; which was destroyed along with others when the Deccan confederacy attacked the empire.
Stepped tank also called Pushkarni. This tank was delicately excavated so as not to damage the intricacy.
Remaining in the next post :)