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..HERITAGE SITES-Hampi and Vijayanagar
     
 
Location : 350 kms from Bangalore, Karnataka
" If dreams were made out of stone, it would be Hampi"
Hampi is a World Heritage Centre and the world’s largest open-air museum.
 
     
 

Hampi was the capital city of the powerful South Indian Vijayanagar Empire. . The empire reigned supreme under Krishnadevaraya, the Emperor. The Vijayanagara empire stretched over at least three states - Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh. and became a by-word for golden rule Founded by Harihara and Bukka in 1336; it fell to the Muslim rulers of North India in 1565 after the disastrous Battle of Talikota and subsequently lapsed into decline and abandonment. The once-proud city of victory is now a city of desolation.

 
 

However, the ruins of these historical monuments have stood the ravages of man and time and still evoke memories of the grandeur of a bygone era.

   
 
 
A visit to Hampi is a sojourn into the past.
Although in ruins today, this capital city once boasted riches known far beyond the shores of India. The ruins of Hampi of the 14th Century lies scattered in about 26 sq. km area, amidst giant boulders and vegetation. Protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and rocky granite ridges on the other three sides, the ruins silently narrate the story of grandeur splendor and fabulous wealth.
Most of the ruins are along the road leading from Kamalapura to Hampi.

Three kms down the road, on a commanding site, stands the temple of Malyavanta Raghunathaswamy.It is built in the Dravidian style. Strange-looking fishes and marine monsters carved along its outer walls are worth noticing.

The Virupaksha Temple rises majestically at the western end of the famous Hampi Bazaar. The temple has a 120 feet tall tower on its eastern entrance. The temple contains the shrines of Shiva, Pampa and Bhuvaneswari.Parts of this temple are older than the Vijayanagar kingdom itself. The work of this style dates back to the 11th or 12th century.

Nearby is the 6.7m tall monolith of Ugra Narasimha. An inscription nearby states that it was hewn from a single boulder in 1528 during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya.

 
 
Vithala Temple Complex
The most splendid monument of Hampi is undoubtedly the Vithala Temple
 
 
Complex with its 56 musical pillars. To the east of the hall is the famous Stone Chariot with stone wheels that actually revolve. In front of the shrine stands the great mantapa. Resting on a richly sculpted basement, its roof is supported by huge pillars of granite, about 15 feet in height, each consisting of a central pillar surrounded by detached shafts, all cut from one single block of stone. Several of the carved pillars were attacked with such fury that they are hardly more than shapeless blocks of stones and a large portion of the central part has been destroyed completely.

The best way to experience this World Heritage Site is to take a leisurely stroll through the eloquent ruins. The splendid remains of palaces and gateways of this broken city eloquently showcases the infinite talent and creativity of Man and also shows his capacity for senseless destruction.

 
     
 
Belur and Halebid -
Come to the twin temple towns of Belur and Halebid for a glimpse of Hindu temple art at its glorious best. In the 16th century, Belur-Halebid were at the heart of the throbbing Hoysala empire. The Hoysalas were huge patrons of art and
architecture and built massive temples that have survived the ravages of time.
 
     
 
The most outstanding temple in Belur is the Chenakeshava, a monumental edifice that took 103 years to build, possibly because of the intricate details and the myriads of friezes and sculptures that embellish the temple walls. Scenes from the epics, elephants in battle and sensuous dancers come alive in stone. The 42 'madanikas' or celestial dancers were inspired by Queen Shantaladevi, who is said to have epitomized beauty. The Hoysala architects had an eye for detail and such wizardry with their chisels that the earrings on the lobes of the dancers can rotate and beads of perspiration glisten in the hair of some.
 
     
  PRIME ATTRACTIONS
Chennakesava Temple at Belur.

Belur is a small town in the Hassan district of Karnataka. Belur is 222 Kms from Bangalore, 34 Kms from Hassan and 149 Kms from Mysore. Belur is known as Dakshina Varanasi or South Banaras for its exquisite temples.
Here, kings of the Hoysala dynasty constructed the 'Chennakeshva' temple. It is about one hundred feet high and has a magnificent gateway tower built in the Dravidian style.


The breathtaking temple reigns on a star-shaped pedestal. Every possible surface is covered with the most perfectly proportioned figures.
Everything is carved in a gleaming, polished black stone, which looks like metal.

 
 

Pillars:

Inside, in the startling darkness gleam the beautiful pillars, each unique in its filigreed splendour.

The most popular being, the Narasimha pillar in the Navaranga, unique in its filigreed splendour. It is said to have revolved on its ball bearings once. A small space has been left on it to be sculpted by anyone who has the talent. It remains untouched.

The pillars were made by rough-finishing a monolithic block of stone and then mounting it in an upright position on a wheel. This was rotated against a chisel, set as a turning tool. Each pillar has a bell-shaped member towards the lower half of the shaft. A sloping bracket has been fixed to the capital by means of sockets. The brackets were carved from single slabs into images, enshrined with leafy aureoles of beautiful maidens known as 'shilabalakis'. The seductive voluptuary emphasis is remarkable.
 
     
 
About 16 km away from Belur is Halebid, the other temple town, equally magnificent but not as well preserved. Halebid was the capital of the Hoysalas till it was destroyed in the early 14th century after attacks by the Delhi Sultanate. The Hoysaleshwara temple survived the pillage but it somehow managed to remain incomplete even after 87 years of uninterrupted construction. The temple is dedicated to Shiva and has two enormous Nandi bulls at the entrance.

The temples of Belur and Halebid were made of steatite, a material that is easy to work on, soft initially but hardening after prolonged exposure. The Hoysalas promoted temple art to such a degree that the artists actually left their signatures on their work. The sculptures are unparalleled in their beauty; in fact, as a challenge to their art, the sculptors left a small blank space on the revolving Narasimha pillar, to be filled in by anyone who has the talent. The space remains blank till today.
 
     
 
Sravanabelagola is a small town between Bangalore and Hassan. It is a holy place for Jains and is world famous for the largest monolith statue of Lord Gometeshwara also known as Bahubali. Legend has it that King Chandra Gupta Maurya spent his last few years here.
 
 

The town is split by two hills Indragiri and and Chandragiri. Indragiri is the larger of the two hills and it is on this hill that the Gomateshwara statue stands. It is a steep climb to reach the statue.There are more than 500 steps that lead up to the temple . Footwear has to be removed before climbing the steps.
 
     
     

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