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Hampi... a tour

The Ruins at Hampi
The grandeur of Vijayanagara architecture can be seen across the vast expanse of what was once a fine capital but now in ruins and under the aegis of the archaeological departments, undergoing excavation and preservation works. The enormous size of the monuments perhaps symbolizes the strong foundation on which the Vijayanagara Empire rested for nearly 230 years. The structures, carved and built from mammoth pieces of rock, the pillars and mantapas intricately sculpted and depicting many scenes of life in the kingdom, reflect the glory of the Vijayanagara dynasty.

It's ironical that whilst the religious architecture of the Vijayanagara dynasty comprised of temples made from granite, the super structures in their civil architecture were made from wood, except for the stone foundations. It is indeed significant that whilst the super structures of most palaces and monuments were destroyed when Hampi was invaded and plundered, the foundations and basements made from stone are the only architectural remains of this once luxurious city.

intricately sculpted pillars
The pillars and mantapas intricately sculpted, depict scenes of life in the kingdom...

Virupaksha Temple
Virupaksha Temple - a small shrine from the 7th century, developed into a large complex.
Sri Virupaksha Temple
Located at the foot of the Hemakunta Hill, the Virupaksha Temple was believed to have been in existence as a small shrine from the 7th century. When the Vijayanagara Empire was established and Hampi chosen as its capital, this temple was improved upon by the Vijayanagara rulers and soon developed into a large complex that included a pillared hall, courtyards, mantapas and a market place which in course of time developed into a trading center for precious stones, gold, food grain, etc. Intricate carvings depicting mythological themes and paintings using paints made from herbs were done in the ceiling of the temple.

Lakshmi-Narasimha (Ugaranarasimha) Statue...
Built in 1528, towards the end of Krishnadevaraya's reign, this monolithic statue of Lakshmi Narasimha is carved from a single rock.

The statue stands towering and majestic, 7 meters high, and depicts the 4th of the 10 incarnations of Vishnu. Here, the statue depicts the incarnation of a Lion, seated on the coils of Adhisesha the serpent whose seven hoods shelter his head.

The original had a statue of Lakshmi on the right lap of Narasimha. This is missing, having been destroyed in the 1565 war. Thankfully, much of the mutilation to Narasimha's statue has been partially restored by archaeological experts.

Lakshmi-Narasimha (Ugaranarasimha) Statue
carved from a single rock...

Sasive Kalu Ganesha
Sasive Kalu Ganesha
... and the Statue of Lord Ganesha
This statue is known as "Sasive Kalu Ganesha" or Mustard Seed Ganesha. Again carved from single stone, the 2.5 meter tall statue depicts Ganesha with 4 arms. In the upper two hands are held the "Anuksha" or Goad and "Pasha" or Noose. In the lower right hand is held a Tusk. The lower left hand is supposed to have held "Modaka" a sweet ball. This, (the lower left hand) was damaged in the war and has remained this way since restoration has not been possible.

There is another statue of Ganesha that is twice the size and carved from a single stone. Called "Kadale Kalu Ganesha" (Groundnut Ganesha) it is in a state of total ruin having suffered more serious damages during the war. To prevent further deterioration this statue of Ganesha is protected in an enclosed area in Hampi.

The Vittala Temple
King Krishnadevaya was a very religious person and he is credited for having many temples built during the 21-year period that he ruled over the empire. The Vittala temple is considered to be a magnificent piece of architecture, built on a strong stone foundation like so many others.

The significance of this temple is that till today one can hear a musical sound by tapping the many pillars found in this temple complex. What makes the pillars and ceiling inside this complex remarkable are the fine carvings and etchings done on stone, much of which are still intact with minimum damage afflicted to them.

Stone ChariotAnother masterpiece is the Stone Chariot in front of the main temple. This is perhaps one structure not carved from a single rock but instead, from many different stones. But the skill with which the chariot has been carved and has joints made of stone makes it worth appreciating.

Behind the walls of this imposing temple is where the market place used to be. Bare pillars made out of stone stand today as testimony of what once used to be a market buzzing with activity.

The Vittala temple
...a magnificent piece of architecture.

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