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HAMPI: The Ancient Capital of the Greatest Hindu Empire Vijayanagara

The great monuments and the rich heritage tell us allot about the grandeur and fabulous wealth of the bygone era and the infinite talent and creativity of its people

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The Hampi Chariot Image Source: Wikipedia Commons
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  • The World Heritage site of Hampi is filled with lavish Dravidian temples and was the capital of the kingdom of Vijayanagara
  • The great monuments and the rich heritage tells us so much about the grandeur and fabulous wealth of the bygone era
  • A superb blend of styles from various schools of architecture created  awe-inspiring structures

The ravishing beauty of Hampi, the capital of the most famed Hindu kingdom of the past does not only lie in the majestic architectural structures but also in the landscapes, the trees and the scenic Tungabhadra river on its side. This World Heritage site filled with lavish Dravidian temples was the capital of the kingdom of Vijayanagara, the largest empire in post-Mughal India, covering the present-day Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra, and Maharashtra. Under the rule of king Krishnadevaraya, the empire succeeded in reviving the Indian culture with a flourish for music, art, sculpture, and literature.

Though in ruins, tourists still flock in large numbers to Hampi which is located near Hospet, in Bellary district in the southern Indian state of Karnataka. The great monuments and the rich heritage tells us so much about the grandeur and fabulous wealth of the bygone era and the infinite talent and creativity of its people. Amidst the giant boulders and plantations, and protected by the turbulent river Tungabhadra in the north, these ruins stand tall, reminding us of a beautiful era of the past. The Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority was constituted in 2002 for the overall development and conservation of Hampi after the government made it an international destination.

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The dilapidated main mantapa at the Vitthala templein Hampi Image Source: Wikipedia Commons
The dilapidated main mandapa at the Vitthala temple in Hampi Image Source: Wikipedia Commons

Established in 1336 A.D. by two brothers, Hakka and Bukka , the Vijayanagara empire held its ground for centuries restoring Hinduism and keeping the Turks at bay. Vijayanagara is also known as Vidyanagara because Hakka and Bukka built the empire under the guidance of their patron saint Madhava Vidyaranya. However, it is believed that the kingdom dates back to the period of the epic, Ramayana when it was the site of Kishkinda, a monkey kingdom.

After successfully driving away the Khilji Dynasty of Delhi which had invaded South India and destroyed the Kakathiya Empire, Hoysalas and the Pandian Kingdom, the kings of Hampi restored peace to the land and revived their great culture. Hindu religion, art and architecture saw a tremendous growth and many institutions were set up to strengthen their common culture. The famous Tenali Ramakrishna, known as Tenali Raman to the people of today was one of the several poets and ministers in the court of by Krishnadeva Raya, the greatest ruler of the dynasty. The economy of Southern India grew to new heights under his leadership. Trade with the Portuguese and Dutch were established.

Travelling chroniclers from Arabia, Italy, Portugal and Russia came to this blessed land to visit the monuments of the city. Most of the monuments were built between 1336 and 1570 A.D. from the times of Harihara-I to Sadasivaraya.

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Over the years, a unique style of architecture came into form. A superb blend of styles from various schools of architecture created awe-inspiring structures like the majestic Hindu temples, the royal hall, the magnificent throne platform used to witness festivals and other events, and the king’s balance or scale. The ornamentation, delicate carvings, stately pillars, magnificent pavilions and a great wealth of iconographic and traditional depictions from the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata, make the temples of Hampi a marvelous spectacle, says the About Religion article. Worship is still carried out at the largest extant temple at Pampapati after it was renovated.

A large number of palatial complexes, stone images, household utensils, beautiful terracotta objects, inscribed Buddhist sculptures of the 2nd-3rd century, and stucco figures that once embellished the palaces have been discovered in the recent excavations.

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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  • Akanksha Sharma

    The architectural structures at Humpi are beautiful.

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Archaeological Sites Dating Back Thousands of Years Found Around Britain, Thanks to the Heat

The archaeologists are mapping the sites to determine the significance of the remains beneath and how best to protect them.

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A view shows parched grass from the lack of rain in Greenwich Park, backdropped by the Royal Museums Greenwich and the skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf business district, during what has been the driest summer for many years in London
A view shows parched grass from the lack of rain in Greenwich Park, backdropped by the Royal Museums Greenwich and the skyscrapers of the Canary Wharf business district, during what has been the driest summer for many years in London. VOA

Britain’s hottest summer in decades has revealed cropmarks across the country showing the archaeological sites of Iron Age settlements, Roman farms and even Neolithic monuments dating back thousands of years, archaeologists said Wednesday.

Cropmarks — patterns of shading in crops and grass seen most clearly from the air — form faster in hot weather as the fields dry out, making this summer’s heat wave ideal for discovering such sites.

Archaeologists at the public body Historic England have been making the most of the hot weather to look for patterns revealing the ancient sites buried below, from Yorkshire in the north down to Cornwall in the southwest.

Archeology , Neolithic artefacts. england
Neolithic remains (representational image). Wikimedia

“We’ve discovered hundreds of new sites this year spanning about 6,000 years of England’s history,” said Damian Grady, aerial reconnaissance manager at Historic England.

“Each new site is interesting in itself, but the fact we’re finding so many sites over such a large area is filling in a lot of gaps in knowledge about how people lived and farmed and managed the landscape in the past,” he said.

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The archaeologists are mapping the sites to determine the significance of the remains beneath and how best to protect them. While some may be significant enough to merit national protection from development, local authorities or farmers may be left to decide what to do at other sites.

“We’ll hopefully get the help of farmers to help protect some of these undesignated sites,” Grady said. (VOA)