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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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Hindus In Delhi Push For A Temple On The Ruins Of a Mosque

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

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Supporters of Vishwa Hindu Parishad gather during a rally in New Delhi, Dec. 9, 2018. The group gathered thousands of supporters to demand the construction of a Hindu temple on a site where a mosque was attacked, demolished in 1992. VOA

Tens of thousands of hardline Hindu protesters marched in New Delhi on Sunday, calling for a grand temple to be built on the ruins of a destroyed mosque in a flashpoint Indian city.

Trident-waving devotees clad in saffron filled a huge parade ground in the Indian capital under tight security, where speakers warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi they would not let up until the temple was sanctioned.

Some of Modi’s supporters feel the Hindu nationalist leader has not done enough to raise a shrine at a site in Ayodhya, a city believed by many to be the birthplace of the deity Ram.

The site was home to a medieval mosque for 460 years until Hindu zealots tore it down in 1992, kicking off riots across India that left thousands dead, most of them Muslims.

Its future has been tied up in courts for decades but some hardliners want Modi, who is seeking reelection in 2019, to push parliament to guarantee the temple by law.

World Hindu Congress, Hindu
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“The gathering here is telling you that Hindus won’t sit back until the temple is built, and our wishes are respected,” said Champat Rai, the leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) group that organized the protest.

Demonstrators chanting “Praise be to Ram” packed the Ramlila Maidan, a vast ground capable of holding more than 50,000 people, and filled the surrounding streets.

Some carried maces and tridents — weapons traditionally wielded by Hindu gods — and traveled great distances by train and bus to reach the rally.

“We have come here to protect our religion and Hindu pride. We want a temple for our Lord Ram,” Hitesh Bharadwaj, a teacher from Delhi’s satellite city Noida, told AFP.

The hardline VHP has applied pressure on Modi in recent weeks, staging a huge show of force in Ayodhya itself last month.

Hindu, Mosque
Photo credit: theguardian.com

A close ally of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the group is spearheading a push to raise the Ram temple, and is calling for more protests as the premier prepares to go to the polls by May.

The BJP was on the margins until the 1980s when its top leaders, including Modi, backed a growing movement for the construction of the Ram temple.

Its advocates want parliament to introduce a law bypassing legal hurdles blocking the temple before Modi’s term ends.

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The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

“We don’t care about the courts. A grand temple will be constructed in 2019,” Sushil Chawdhary, a VHP leader, told AFP. (VOA)