Monday, September 28, 2009

The Krishna Temple Complex is the first of the series of temples in the Sacred Enclosure. There is a gateway near the temple to enter the main village.

The large and ornate, East facing temple, was consecrated with an icDSC00950on of Balakrishna, bought from Udayagiri (Orissa), by Krishnadevaraya, as indicated in an inscription dated 1513 A.D

The temple complex built in Panchayatana style with two enclosures, has the main shrine with the sanctum, a vestibule, pillared pavilions and halls, a Devi shrine and many sub shrines. In addition there is a kitchen towards the southeast of the main shrine, and a separate store, housed within the first enclosure to the southwest.

The grand towered Eastern gateway is an outstanding example of Vijayanagara architecture. The temple walls are carved with depictions of the Bhagavata, the Puranic story of Lord Krishna, and DSC00955the life of the times. The pillars of the Mahamantapa has sculpted depictions of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.

Once we go through the main gopura inside, we see the main temple directly in front and a smaller shrine to the right. A corridor runs around the various shrines and there is a kitchen at the far end. It is said that free food was provided in the temple every day to the poor and needy from the temple kitchen.

Just before the main temple, there is a dhwajasthamba (the temple mast) at which,  there is an idol of Garuda, the carrier of Lord Vishnu. Confirming to the Vijayanagara architecture, the entrance of the temple is guarded by Elephants and Crocodiles.


The temple is full of pillars with idols of gods carved on them. The most notable part of all is the ceiling in the small hall before the inner sanctum. It’s carved with elegant designs and even though it has turned black due to centuries of wear and tear, it showcases the talent of the craftsmen. The ceiling is carved in two circles. The outer circle is carved with dancing women and the inner circle with peacocks. In the middle is a small protrusion.

The inner sanctum is empty and the only thing remaining is a pedestal on which the idol had once been placed. As mentioned earlier, there is a very old inscription on one of the stones. It is written in Sanskrit with Kannada script and is very clear even after centuries. The Krishna temple depicts the grandeur of the Vijayanagar empire in its true form.

Just outside the Krishna temple is the Krishna Bazaar. It is similar to the Hampi Bazaar and you can find the similar kind of constructions. Seeing the temple and bazaar, one can easily understand that it is one of the most important places or worship during then.

From here, we proceed to The Badavilinga and The Lakshmi Narasimha shrines.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Hampi Bazaar is a kilometre long road which starts at the Virupaksha temple. The end of the road is clearly visible from the temple. We really do not know what type of bazaar existed neDSC00714ar the Virupaksha temple - today we only see modern constructions.

As we move towards the other end of the road, we see old one storey mantapas made of stone, now being used as houses by the locals. Some part of the mantapas are remodelled to suit the residents.

As we move along, at a distance we see what should have been the Hampi Bazaar. It is nothing but a long corridor with stalls on either side of the road, with space enough to seat a person with his iteDSC00715ms for display. It depicts a typical bazaar-like scene.

Although the place is not used today, we can imagine people selling  their items. Probably this is the place where precious stones and diamonds were placed openly and sold for weight instead of by piece. Some part of the corridor is remodelled and currently used as the Police Station of Hampi. The government art gallery is also located here.

At the end of the road, there is a small open air auditorium where some events of the Hampi Festival are held on 2nd, 3rd and 4th of November every year.

The Monolithic Bull: Just behind the auditorium, there is the Monolithic Bull. This stDSC00720atue of Nandi is carved out of a single stone and stands elegantly at the end of the Hampi Bazaar. This statue is in an elevated mantapa, at the foot of a small hill. There are steps beside the Mantapa which will lead to the other end of the hill to the Achyutharaya Temple Complex. The Nandi is worshipped everyday by the locals and is a must visit site for tourists.

The Matanga Hill: Just to the right of the small hillock which holds the Monolithic Nandi, there is the huge Matanga Hill. There is a very old Veerabhadra Swamy temple on top. The journey DSC00726to the top of the hill is very tiresome as the ascent is over largely natural terrain. Petty thieves are believed to be prowling on the hill as very few people visit the temple. So it is advised not to venture there alone.

I managed to climb 75% of the hill, when someone getting down informed me that there are no tourists on the hill and to be careful. I was very tired of the climb then. So I slowly got down instead of taking any risk. However, we can have a very good view of the whole of the Hampi Bazaar starting from the hill. The Main Gopura of the Virupaksha Temple will be visible at a distance from between trees.  A nice view…

After the Hampi Bazaar, we move on to the Krishna Temple Complex.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The outer walls of the main temple are carved with excellent craftwork which is not at all found in any of the temples constructed in recent times. The whole outer wall contains carvings of Rama, Krishna and other gods and goddesses.

There are multiple small shrines in the Temple Complex. The most notable ones are the following.DSC00658

Sri Bhuvaneswari Devi: This small shrine of the goddess is filled with Black Granite Stone. The walls and the pillars of this shrine are also black. The most beautiful feature of this temple is the wall panel above the door to the inner sanctum. The carvings are so miniature and so very detailed, we wonder how many days would have been taken to carve them.  

DSC00680 The room with a Pin - Hole Camera: This cannot be called a shrine but it is a must visit in the temple complex. There is a small room with nothing inside but a small hole in one of the walls through which light passes. Through the hole, we can see the main gopura of the temple at a distance. The surprising aspect is that if we see the blank wall, we see the image of the gopura in inverted position. This is a 15th Century Pin - Hole Camera Technique.

Pataleswara Swamy: This shrine is in the cellar of the temple complexDSC00686. The way to the the cellar is very dark and steep that extra care need to be taken moving down. Even the shrine is very dark with a very small hole in the ceiling for light. The inner sanctum is locked and is obviously a Siva shrine with the presence of The Nandi in front of the shrine.  

There are other smaller shrines of Rathnagarbha Ganapathi, Chandreswara Swamy and Rudraksheswara Swamy.

The Matanga tank is the holy tank of the temple and located just outside the temple. Any rituals related to the lord are held near the tank. There is an old Durga Shrine near the tank.

From here, i move to the Hampi Bazaar area.

To be continued…

Sunday, September 6, 2009

As soon as we see the main temple of Virupaksha, we will awe with wonder and will have a glimpse of what Hampi has to offer. There is art and sculptuDSC00629re everywhere on the temple. Not even the outer walls are left empty. The main entrance of the temple are guarded by two elephants and crocodiles are depicted having the legs of the elephants in their mouths. It depicts the story of “Gajendra Moksha” where Lord Vishnu saves the elephant who was about to be killed by a crocodile. This is a consistent feature of most of the temples in Hampi. Every temple has the same kind of sculpture at their entrance. There is a long stone plaque on which has an inscription which was probably written when the temple was commissioned.

Once you go inside, you will see pilDSC00637lars all around with exquisite carvings of Siva, Parvathi, Ganesha and others. The ceiling is also filled with paintings dated 7th Century on which the Dasavataras and the marriage of Siva and Parvathi are depicted. Inspite of the the paintings being old, they are still in good condition which tells about the quality of the work in those days. The wall panels at the ceiling are again with beautiful carvings of various stories not only of Siva but also of Vishnu. Stories like Mahishasura Mardhini and Lord Siva’s wedding and other carvings like Padmanaha Swami (Vishnu) are worth a mention. Some of the carvings are remodelled with Plaster of Paris as they have worn out. 

Every pillar has a carving of either an elephant or a lion.There is a door which leads us to the inner sanctum. On either side of the door, we find two dwarapalakas which gives a grand look and tells us the importance of theDSC00640 place. However, this entrance is not used anymore. The way to enter the sanctum is from its side. A camera is inside the inner sanctum which is focused on the idol and a television is put in the outer hall for the devotees to watch. This temple also houses some unusual guests, monkeys. They roam around freely among the hundreds of devotees. They play with the luggage of the devotees especially water bottles;quite a funny scene.

The inner sanctum is always incensed and the chanting of sacred words is heard almost all the time. There main deity is a Sivalinga which has a silver crown of the snake. Photography is not allowed inside the inner sanctum. I had the darshan and went on to visit the other shrines in the temple complex.

To be continued…

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Virupaksha temple is one place in Hampi which is filled with visitors almost all day, even in the night. One can choose to sleep on the floor gazing the starlit night sky. It is a big complex whichDSC00605 has a lot of space for freely squat on the floor.

The temple of Virupaksha or Pampapati, on the banks of the river Tungabhadra was the official deity of the Vijayanagara rulers. It is the most sacred living monument of Hampi. The temple was initially a modest structure and as years have gone by, many kings have commissioned constructions starting from the 7th Century A.D, especially the kings of the Sangama and Tuluva dynasties. Devaraya II(1416 - 1422) and Krishnadevaraya got the temple to its present form.

As mentioned before in one of the posts, the street outside the temple is always busy with vendors and tourists. The firDSC00830st thing one notices about the temple is the height of the main gopura (entrance). It stands at 165 feet and is the second highest in India, the first being that in the Meenakshi Temple in Madhurai (Tamil Nadu).

As you enter the main entrance of the temple, you will see a big statue of Veerabhadra under the gopura in one of the enclosures to the left. As you just enter the temple complex, just turn around and you will see a small three headed Nandi statue. A three headed Nandi is a rarity and probably is found only here. Once you enter the temple complex, there is a lot of open space. You will see another gopura further and on the left, there is the Ranga Mantapa.  It is a very beautiful pillared hall and there is a small platformDSC00701 where the king used to spend some time when he visited the temple. Each of the pillars is carved with sculptures of mythological stories about Lord Siva and Ganesha.  It is one of the places one can choose to spend some time in the hot Sun as it is comparatively cooler inside. We then move towards the inner complex through the second gopura.

As we enter the inner complex, we find a lot of empty space and the main tempDSC00626le on the other end. There are very long pillared corridors on either sides. The temple elephant Lakshmi blesses the devotees here. In the middle of the empty space, you will find a small sanctum where you can find four Nandi statues in it. Its one of the rarest of rarity as there will only be one statue of Nandi in front of a Siva shrine.

Behind the Nandi statues, there is a small Sivalinga on a broad round pedestal. The devotees try to round the Sivalinga between their two palms. It is a belief that it is good if one can cover the outer ends of the Sivalinga with their palms. Directly  before the Sivalingas, there is the Homagundam(the sacred place where the yagas are held). Just in front of the Homagundam, there is the entrance of the temple.