Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hampi memories 4 - Around the Royal Enclosure

The architecture changes distinctly in the area approaching the Royal Enclosure. This area is known as the Islamic quarter, where you would have found homes, religious structures, tombs and other buildings used by the Mulsim officers and troops of the Vijayanagar army.

Stairways are typically steep and dark, and worn smooth, so need some effort and care to climb up and down. 

The area is excellent for photography once you reach the  vantage points high up,which our graphic designer nephew enjoyed immensely. And in case you have forgotten, Junior had got irreversibly hooked to Hampi, by then. Didn't take him too long. 

The ruins of the Islamic Quarter are extensive, stretching many miles. Those of you travelling with kids, all you need to do is to hand them a camera. And you can then sit back and watch their History and Geography grades climb North! 

Excuse me! Time for a refreshing and absolutely essential 'Tender Coconut' water. Just what the doctor ordered.

The Zenena Enclosure area has a few interesting buildings. A quick look at the Treasury, after which we came upon the rather interesting Lotus Mahal, also known as the Kamal Mahal or the Chitragani Mahal, built with fusion Indo-Islamic architecture in mind.  The Lotus Mahal of the 16th century had significant substance in its architecture, built of lime and mortar, it is reported to have been an air-cooled building, cooled by a combination of water fed under the building and large fans within. 

The two-storied building was a non-religions building, probably a resting place for Queens and others similarly privileged. The arches are finely designed.

The remains of a large building stands opposite, of which only the three-tiered base remains, an indicator of importance. The structure on top of the base was probably built of wood, which would explain the state of the building today. Historians tell us that this was a palace for the Queens.

Yet another well known building within the Zenena Enclosure is the Elephants' Stables. Fusion architecture, very large structure.

There are domes of different sizes and shapes on the building. 

 Now you get an idea of the size of the doorways, fit for the Royal Elephants to walk in and out of.

The Noblemens' Quarters are located next to the Elephants stable. 

The Noblemens' Quarters have been converted into a museum of sorts. 

I paid my respects to, in my humble opinion, the 'National Animal' of the destroyed and devastated Vijayanagar Empire. The gentle elephants with missing trunk and tusks. Oh, thousands of  them.

Ruins of a watch tower silently stand guard.

Near the Elephants' Stable is the lovely little Ranga Temple, dedicated to Vishnu and Lashmi. However, only a giant Hanuman statue remains. Looks like the attackers missed vanquishing this slab of stone. Not much remains of the rest of  the temple.

There is another interesting building around the Royal Enclosure area. Today, It is known as the Queen's Bath.  Square in shape, a verandah running all around, and an open space for water. A giant bath tub it was!

Notice the delicately designed spouts through which water filled the bath tub, fed no doubt by the extensive system of canals and channels.

The Queen's Bath looks like a simple structure from the outside. Sorry, mate, no water in there, it's bone dry these days.

Our auto-rickshaw driver suddenly pulled up by the roadside, without a word. My thought was that Nature had called, but then he turned around and mysteriously beckoned us to follow him. He then pointed down towards the bushes. This was where the troops were fed, he said.

Aaahhhaaa, all of us said, in unison,and looked at each other in wonder. So it was. Rows of plates and cups built out of stone, practical, environmentally friendly, and effort friendly, as well. What an idea! 

Another stop by the unsigned roads was at a building that appeared to be an Octagonal Bath. Octagonal because of the shape, Bath because it looked like another giant bath tub, with a verandah all around. Wikipedia seems to agree. This bath tub was probably meant for the common folks, maybe.

Unsigned and lonely, the Octagonal Bath looked every bit as abandoned as the cycle that was parked a little distance away,with no owner in sight. The rays of the setting sun rendered the scene even more poignant.

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