Dec 30, 2017

Kondanda Rama temple and Yantroddhara Hanuman temple, Hampi

August 14, 2017
The second day of our Hampi tour we started with Sasivekalu Ganesha. We moved on to explore the gateway and temples on Hemakuta hill and reached Virupaksha temple. Having spent some time at Virupaksha temple, we went towards the river. I remembered visiting one spot during my first visit in 1996. At that spot Tungabhadra flowed through the rock formations ..I wanted to see that spot again. On inquiring a local person told us to go to Rama Laxmana temple which is about a kilometer from Virupaksha temple. I thought the spot was close to Virupaksha temple ..well lets check out Rama temple then. So we walked through the narrow streets of Hampi village ..guest houses, garment shops, jewelry shops, foreign tourists was a different world. in there. We reached the end of Virupaksha market street and turned left into the path leading to Rama Laxmana temple.

Tungabhadra came into view, a lovely sight it was. The foot path wound along the rock formations. It was silent, hardly any people at this time.

This spot known as Chakra Teertha. Here the river changes it direction and flows in north-east direction. This spot is considered holy and people flock to this spot to bathe. It was nice to see the coracles on the calmly flowing water.

The temple path passed through the rocks, a small cave like formation.

This spot is truly convenient for bathing and swimming too. Of course, one needs to be careful. The water marks showed how high the water flowed. The lighter shades on these rocks is due to contact with water. I was imagining the sight when the water level was 15 feet higher ..I wouldn't be standing here. On my right is the temple.

There it is.. Kodandarama temple. It was a small, simple structure but the pillars are tall. On the right is the bathing ghat and shelter for pilgrims. The arrangement indicates this was an important shrine. According to legends, the temple marks the place where Rama crowned Sugreeva as the king of Kishkinda.

The bathing ghat is about 90 meters long. Behind and above in the rock is a clump of trees, that's where another important shrine is i.e. Yantroddharaka Anjaneya Devasthana.

We stood in the shade of the massive Banyan tree opposite Kondandarama temple, the tree must be hundred years old.

The shaded yard of the temple. Truly this spot is peaceful.

The temple entrance. Inside are idols of Laxmana, Rama and Seeta carved on a massive boulder. The idols are at least 10' tall.

Among the rocks of Chakra Teertha are other temples on either sides. Its amazing to see the structures nestled among the rock formations. Wondering how the construction work was carried out. Amazing.

While Pushpa rested in the cool shade at Kodanda Rama temple, I climbed up to see the Hanuman temple,

That's the temple entrance.

That's the deity ..Lord Hanuman at the center of a hexagram. Like Kodandarama temple, the idol here is also carved on a boulder.

The idol has an interesting story which I read on Hampi Online. I'm quoting the story as is..

Sri Vyasathirtha, a great scholar saint during the reign of King Krishna Deva Raya is believed to be an incarnation of the celestial Shankukarna. The earlier incarnation of Shankukarna was Bhakta Prahlada and the one after Sri Vyasathirtha was that of Sri Raghavendra Swami. Sri Vyasathirtha used to go to very calm spots on the banks of river Tungabhadra and meditate uninterrupted. One day, while he was meditating in a hillock near Chakratirtha, an image of Lord Hanuman kept coming to his mind. This happened only at that particular spot and nowhere else, even in nearby hillocks.

Sri Madhwacharya (believed to be an incarnation of Lord Hanuman) appeared in the dreams of Sri Vyasathirtha and instructed him to install an icon of Lord Anjaneya (Hanuman) next time. The next time Sri Vyasathirtha saw the image in the middle of his meditation, without any delay, he drew the image from his mind on to a rock using an Angara (coal used by Brahmins during Pooja performance). To his surprise, a monkey came to life from the rock and jumped out of the rock and his drawing would disappear. He repeated the process of drawing and every time, a monkey would jump out of the rock and the drawing would disappear. This happened 12 times.

Full of surprise, Sri Vyasathirtha finally decided to bind the image of Lord Hanuman in a Yantra. A small temple was built there and hence the temple has the name Yantroddhara Anjaneya. In the core of the Yantra is the statue of Lord Hanuman in Padmasana position. This is probably the only temple of Lord Hanuman in a sitting position which is generally in a flying or blessing position. The Yantra here is a form of binding which looks like a 6 cornered star. The star is encircled in a circle with flames going outwards giving it the drawing look of a sun. A closed, benzene like ring of 12 monkeys holding each others’ tails can also be found around the star and the sun which forms the outermost structure of the Yantra.

Following this, it is believed Sri Vyasathirtha installed 732 Hanuman temples all over South India. It is, to date, very difficult to get a list of all these.

One of the Hanuman idols installed by Vyasaraja is deep in the jungles near Yellapur, at Hanumana Kote.

In the areas enclosed by the segments are Telugu or Kannada text. Its a lovely drawing. Perfect circle, straight lines and angles. What techniques did those sculptors possess to create such an art ..definitely extraordinary.

From here we planned to explore further ..spots which have to be reached by foot like Varaha temple, Vyasaraja Matha, King's Balance, and many more.

Dec 27, 2017

Varaha Temple, Hampi

August 14, 2017
Varaha temple is about 250 meters east of Kodandarama temple. In the background is Matanga Parvatha. At the foot of the hill is Ahyuthraya temple and at its summit is Veerebhadra temple.

The temple is east facing and has a large gateway. Looks like a Gopura was never built for this temple. For a gateway of this size, the Gopura would have been at least seven storeys high.

That's the temple as seen through the gateway. Its a simple structure. The basic design is similar to the main temple inside Virupaksha temple complex.

Ouside is a signage which gives a brief description of this temple..

Varaha (Saiva) Temple
Popularly known as Varaha temple because of the Varaha royal emblem at the eastern entrance, this is a unique Saiva temple built inside a well laid rectangular Prakara. The entire temple is constructed over a Jagati with a sanctum, vestibule and a open Mukhamantapa. The wall portion of the sanctum and vestibule are treated with Devakoshtas. The entrance of vestibule is treated with Gakalakshmi at lintel and four armed Saiva-Dwarapalas at the door frame. Inside the vestibule is placed a couchant bull. The Yashoda Krishna, Ganesha, Makara, Hamsamithuna, Peacock, Sivalinga, Nandi, and various geometrical designs like Sarpbandha, creeper etc. The raised Jagati also acts as a Pradakshinapatha around sanctum and vestibule.

In between Kodandarama temple and Varaha temple is another temple. Its design is unusual and quite interesting. The temple is adjoining a rock formation. It has a high porch, a Shikhara supported by four tall pillars. The temple's interior is quite plain and its ceiling is quite low.

At the entrance, on the left hand side is the rock formation. The rock face has a beautiful image of reclining Vishnu. I'm guessing this temple is either dedicated to Vishnu or his avatar Rama.

This is the Sabhamantap ..simple and spacious. At the center is the Garbhagudi with Pradakshinapatha.

The Garbhagudi. The deity is a monolithic sculpture depicting three characters.. it could be Sita, Rama and Laxmana. Or it might be Vishnu flanked by Laxmi and Padmavati.

On the walls of the Garbhagudi are two inscriptions, one each on either sides of the entrance.

This little temple is unique and interesting but sadly its in a neglected state. Wish its cleaned up and the authorities post a signage about it.

Dec 23, 2017

Mantapa on Hemakuta hill

February 1996
This picture was shot during my first visit to Hampi. My friend Gulveer and I had ridden a Hero Honda Splendor from Bangalore. We had spent a day walking and riding around the ruins. Those day we shot with a aim-n-shoot Yashica, my father had presented it to me. I mostly used Konica rolls and still remember how we rationed the shots. This Mantapa is one of the few shots that remained in my collection. I've applied oil-painting effect to the original in my favorite image editor.

21½ years later..

August 14, 2017
Stone's throw from Sasivekalu Ganesha is this south-facing gateway in the fort wall on Hemakuta hill. People coming from southern side, get a darshan of Ganesha before entering the fort. The structure is simple but builders have designed it carefully. Notice the projecting member to let out rain water from the roof.

Sculptures on the wall ..a well built man blowing a sea-shell. On the gateway wall are two bearded men dancing happily.

The other side of the wall and gateway.

From the  gateway.. the ever beautiful two-storey Mantapa.

This spot is considered as the sunset point now.  Probably people back then also watched the sun disappear into the horizon. Anyway, this picture was shot early morning.

The Mantapa has a door-frame, formal way of greeting visitors? The square at the top of the frame is blank ..normally one would see Gajalaxmi there. Also, the frame is bare, no decorative floral carvings.

Enjoying the peaceful moment.

The open shelter.

Lets move on.

How did people climb on to the first floor? My guess- there's a hole in the upper level floor which connects the two levels. There might have been a step ladder placed which is missing now. This reminds me of stone ladders at Aihole and Pattadakal. However, I'm yet to see a stone ladders at any of the Vijayanagara temples.

A small plateau with a temple and stambha. Its a lovely sight.

The same temple as seen from the Mantapa. This temple seems incomplete. The bare Garbhagudi seems like Chalukyan design ..remember seeing similar structures at Itagi and Aihole. If this was built during Vijayanagara times, then the construction technique remained same through the centuries. Which means Chalukyas had mastered the art of building.

Another smaller temple next to the Mantapa.

Close by is this rock sculpture of Anjaneya, Rama, Laxmana and Sita.

Untouched rocks. Looks like they did not qualify for temple construction. Notice the erosion marks on the faces.

On the slopes of Hemakuta hill are close to 30 temples. We checked a handful before moving downhill towards Virupaksha temple.

Dec 16, 2017

Sasivekalu Ganesha, Hampi

August 14, 2017

The name "Sasivekalu Ganesha" means mustard seed Ganesha. The name is associated to Ganesha's round shaped belly which is as round as a mustard seed. This east facing monolithic statue is situated on the southern slope of Hemakuta hill.

Sasivekalu Ganesha's chubby form is treat for eyes. He is attired with a crown and simple jewelry. In his hands he's holding a modak, broken tusk, a goad and a noose. Around his waist is a tied tightly serpent. According to legends, Ganesha once consumed lot of food, as a result his stomach was on the verge of bursting. To prevent tummy burst, Ganesha tied a serpent around his waist.

Sasivekalu Ganesha sits on a pedestal inside a simple Mantapa. It's height is around 8 feet. According to inscriptions, this monument was built in 1506 AD in memory of Vijayanagara king Narasimha II who had ruled between 1491-1505 CE.

The 16 pillared Mantapa. The mantapa's pedestal, columns, beams and roof are dressed granite blocks. The mantapa's crown is brick and mortar work in Indo Saracenic style.

Simple but beautiful creation.

The side views..

..and the rear side. Wikipedi page on Sasivekalu Ganesha mentions that Ganesha is sitting on Parvati's lap and that can be made out only in the rear view.

Notice the patches of plaster on the columns. So the mantapa's columns were originally covered in plaster and probably painted too. Over time, the plaster has fallen off.

Patches of plaster can be seen in this view too.

From the Sasivekalu pavilion a flight of steps carved into the rock leads to a gateway.

Mantapa and Ganesha as seen from the steps.

Somewhere near the steps is a granite block with an image of reclining Vishnu.

On the south-eastern face of Hemakuta hill is a bigger idol of Ganesha known as Kadalekalu Ganesha also sheltered in a mantapa.

Dec 9, 2017

Elephant Stables, Hampi

August 13, 2017
Anyone visiting Hampi can't miss elephant stables, one of the best preserved monuments. These building is adjoining the Zenana Enclosure. This long building has 10 domes and a central tower. Probably the central tower was also capped by a dome however it's bare now. Technically this is a 3 storey building.

In plan, the building is  approximately 272' long and 35' wide. In elevation, the overall height is approximately 50 feet. There are eleven stables, each stable has an arched doorway. The eleven arches are complimented by niches.

The building architecture is Indo Saracenic. There are two types of domes- ribbed and stepped.

The central hall was obviously meant for men, probably the chief stable keeper's office.

A closer look at the central hall. Its like a building on a building. Had the dome survived the test of time, the building would have been in its original look.

View of the central tower from the ground below. Wondering why those projecting beams.

One of the arches. The outer wall is approximately 7 feet thick. That's required of an elephant stable withstand the beasts forces.

This is an example of an inner dome. The royal standards applied to stable as well. After all, oxen, horses and elephants were treated like family members in Hindu culture. Wondering if an elephant ever knew the difference between a plain and a design filled domes. So, pet pampering has an history.

Stable interior. If I remember correctly, two stables have man sized doorways on the rear wall.

The stables are connected by man-sized passages 

The dim interior keeps the heat away. That's Nilesh, our friend from Pune.

Close to the Zenana enclosure and Archaeology office are these two pillars ..7' to 8' high. These might have been used to tie elephants. There could be other purposes too.

Right besides the elephant stables is another long building- the Guards' Quarters.