Hampi: Excerpt from “Romance on the Rocks”

The Ratha, across from Vittala Temple, Hampi
The Ratha, across from Vittala Temple, Hampi

16th Centuy chariot in stone at Vitthala Temple complex – Hampi, Karnataka, India… listed as a World Heritage Site for no small reason! It’s one of my favorite destinations… and holds fond memories.

Today, a mere symbol, Hampi represented a cultural force between the 14th-15th centuries. It was originally a sacred centre on the banks of the Tungabhadra river. The dynasty that founded the Vijayanagara Empire later transformed it into a fortified, magnificent capital.

The Gangitti Jain temple of 1385 represents the typical, early Vijayanagara style of architecture. Located on the east side of the Royal Centre in Hampi, it has double shrines. The walls are plain; columns and pyramidal stepped towers – “vimanas” – compare with the early shrines on Hemkuta Hill. The tall, lamp-column in front of the temple has an inscription on its shaft.

The small temples overlooking the village of Hampi from the south, built on a sloping shelf of granite, are also a photographer’s delight. From this village in Hampi you can see the Pampapati Temple, worshipped by devout followers, even to this day.

Interesting are also the monolithic temples of Ganesh, Narasimha and the Shiva Linga, not far from Hemkuta. The Malayavanta Raghunatha temple, the Krishna, the Hazaar Ram temples, all have interesting tales to tell, both, from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. It is also believed that in a natural cavern close by, the monkey king Sugriva hid the jewels dropped by Rama’s consort Sita, soon after her abduction by Ravana of Lanka; marks left by her clothing still remain, or so they say.

In a beautiful setting by the river is the most impressive Vitthala temple with its granite columns that chime with musical notes! Facing this marvellous temple is the celebrated Ratha, a repro of the real chariot, in granite. The delicately carved lotus design on the wheels is simply superb!

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Originally Posted on BlogSpot


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