Group of Monuments at Hampi

Hampi monuments have special place in the history of Indian architecture. Hampi, the 14th century capital of one of the greatest empires of medieval India called the Vijayanagar Empire, lies in the Deccan heartland, in the state of Karnataka. The 14th Century ruins of Hampi lie scattered in about 26 sq. km areas, amidst giant boulders and vegetation. Protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and rocky granite ridges on the other three sides, the ruins silently narrate the story of grandeur, splendour and fabulous wealth. The splendid remains of palaces and gateways of the broken city tells a tale of man’s infinite talent and power of creativity together with his capacity for senseless destruction.The monuments of Vijayanagar city, also known as Vidyasagar in honour of the sage Vidyaranya was built between 1336-1570 A.D., from the times of Harihara-I to Sadasiva Raya. A large number of royal buildings were raised by Krishnadeva Raya (A.D. 1509-30), the greatest ruler of the dynasty.

The period witnessed resurgence of Hindu religion art, architecture in an unprecedented scale. Temples of Hampi are noted for their large dimensions, florid ornamentation, bold and delicate carvings, stately pillars, magnificent pavilions and a great wealth of iconographic and traditional depictions, which include subjects from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

The Vitthala temple in Hampi is an excellent example of Vijayanagar style. The monolithic statues of Lakshmi, Narasimha and Ganesha are noted for their massiveness and grace. The Krishna temple, Pattabhirama temple, Hazara Ramachandra and Chandrasekhara temple as also the Jain temples, are other examples. Majority of these temples in Hampi were provided with widespread bazaars flanked on either side by storied Mandapas.

Among secular edifices, mention may be made of the Zenana enclosure wherein a massive stone basement of the Queen’s palace and ornate pavilion called ‘Lotus-Mahal’ are the only remnants of a luxurious ‘Antahpura’. The corner towers of arresting elevation, the Dhananayaka’s enclosure (treasury), the Mahanavami Dibba carrying beautifully sculptured panels, a variety of ponds and tanks, Mandapas, the elephant’s stables and the row of pillared Mandapas are some of the important architectural remains of Hampi.

Recent excavations at the Hampi have brought to light a large number of palatial complexes and basements of several platforms. Interesting finds include a large number of stone images, beautiful terra cotta objects and stucco figures that once embellished the palaces at Hampi.

In addition, many gold and copper coins, household utensils, a square stepped-tank (Sarovar) at the south-west of Mahanavami Dibba, and a large number of ceramics, including the important variety of porcelain and inscribed Buddhist sculptures of 2nd-3rd century A.D. have also been unearthed.

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