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Hampi... a tour

The Royal Enclosure
The King's court was called a "Durbar". The Durbar Hall of the Vijayanagara kings at Hampi was a magnificent hall built on a raised platform made from stone and is reported to have rows of huge pillars. All that remains today is the stone foundation and a portion of the stone staircase.

A remarkable feature of some of these monuments constructed those days were stone-carved figures of elephants adorning the entrances of the steps to these halls. Some of these are still present but most are broken, disfigured or damaged as a result of the war.

Significant amongst the monuments in the Royal Durbar area are the King's Palace and the Dasara Platform, from where the Vijayanagara kings watched festivities performed in the grandeur and pomp synonymous with royalty.

stone-carved elephants
stone-carved figures of elephants adorning the entrances

The Lotus Mahal
A fine blend of two types of architecture - Hindu and Islamic
The Lotus Mahal
The Lotus Mahal, the Queen's Summer Palace represents a fine blend of two types of architecture - Hindu and Islamic. In the early days of the formation of the Vijayanagara Empire, there might have been traces of Islamic influence and which somehow found its way seems to have reflected in the architecture of the monuments built during that period.

The monument's shape resembles the lotus flower and hence the name, the Lotus Mahal or Lotus Palace. The beautifully sculptured arches and pillars enhance the majestic look of this excellent monument.

Zenana Enclosure
The high walled "Zenana Enclosure" as it is called, was meant exclusively for the women folk of the Vijayanagara kingdom. The enclosure comprises of the Queen's Palace, Lotus Mahal, a variety of ponds and tanks, treasury, elephant stables, watch towers, quarters for women attendants and stone conduits to carry water into a large water pavilion. All that remains today of the Palace is the massive stone basement on which it was built.
Zenana Enclosure
All that remains of the "Zenana"

"Stepped" Water Storage Tank
The Vijayanagara kings always attached great importance to water storage and irrigation. That's perhaps why many water storage tanks are found. One such masterpiece is this water storage tank called the "Stepped Tank" because of the perfect formation of steps and tiers that can be found inside the tank.

The Stepped Tank is a recent excavation by archaeologists and considered to be an excellence piece of planned architectural work.

Stepped Water Storage Tank
...perfect formation of steps.

The Elephant Stables
massive dome-shaped structures
The Elephant Stables
Just outside the Zenana enclosure is located the elephant stables. The architecture of this structure has a distinct Islamic style character to it. These massive dome-shaped structures, with high ceilings fitted with hooks from where hung huge chains to strap the elephants that were housed here.

Just besides the elephant stables are located the Guard Quarters. Both, the elephant stables and the guard quarters face an open courtyard.

The King's Balance
The King's Balance
The 2-tall pillars made from granite with a stone beam running across is called the King's Balance or "Tula Purushadana", where religious ceremonies were performed. It was customary for the king to weigh himself on the balance against an equal weight of gold, ornaments and precious stones, which was later distributed to the poor and needy.
Rama TempleThe Rama Temple
Not too far from the King's Palace is yet another magnificent temple called the Rama Temple because the walls of these panels have beautifully carved scenes from Ramayana and sculptured pillars inside the temple. The carvings consist of horizontal rows of elephants and horses in a procession; an ample demonstration of the military power and strength of the Vijayanagara Empire.

Rama Temple

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