Hampi: Forgotten Empire

In 1336, the city of Vijyanagar was founded in Central India . It flourished despite the odds, eventually becoming a city of 500,000 occupants. For over 200 years the kings improved upon the city, building temples, monuments, palaces, and concert halls. It was visited by envoys from as far away at Portugal and China. But the Indian Sub-continent was in a state of unrest and the kings were constantly fighting their rivals from the north.  In 1565, the  Deccan sultanates launched a final assault. The king was killed and the city’s residents were forced to flee. Once they captured the city, the Sultanate armies spent a full six months systematically destroying everything within–temples, homes, statues, bazaars. The Vijayanagara Empire faded away and the ruins of the city were all but forgotten forgotten until the 19th century. Since then, a tiny village has cropped up amongst the ruins. Now known as Hampi, it has become an international destination for lovers of archaeology and history.

One of the highlights of Hampi is Virupaksha Temple. One of the last remaining holy sites in Hampi, this temple was largely undisturbed by the invading armies.   Its temple is popular with Hindu pilgrims, who sleep in the open for the night and then bathe in the river the next morning.

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Breakfast on a rooftop deck with a 14th century temple in the background. Just a typical Tuesday.

 

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Foreign visitors had an influence on the building style of Vijayanagara. The Krishna Temple has rooftops that resemble pagodas.
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Great googly-eyed Krishna!

 

 

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The queens had a beautiful walled garden known as the Zenana Enclosure. In addition to a palace, the garden is home to the Lotus Mahal. This beautiful building featured pipes through which they pumped cool mud–an ancient form of air-conditioning. It’s good to be queen!
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Lotus Mahal.
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Joel practices his moves at Vittala Temple.
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Scraggly tree at the Vittala Temple.
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This stepped Pool was buried under mud and not re-discovered until 1986. How many other Hampi treasures are still hidden underground, I wonder?
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The sprawling city of Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and many government workers are employed to maintain it. Here, workers remove weeds the old-fashioned way.

 

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