Elephants in the Architecture

I didn’t mean to, really.  It was only on my last day that I realized I had A Thing for Hampi’s elephants.  And the town only has one live elephant, Lakshmi, who lives in the temple and will give you a kiss if you give her 10 rupees.  But no, I was most interested in the elephants in the ruins–the bas reliefs, the carvings, the statues.  Of all the things to photograph, I kept coming back to the elephants.

First up has to be Ganesh.  To be fair, Ganesh is not an elephant; he’s a god with the body of a man and the head of an elephant head.  The “remover of obstacles” and the patron of learning, he is a favorite Hindu persona both for Joel and me.  His was certainly my favorite temple in Hampi; the statue there is known by the locals as Kadelakalu Ganesh or “Peanut Ganesh” because his big belly and head make him look like a peanut.   (A really big peanut.)

Peanut Ganesh of Hampi
Peanut Ganesh of Hampi
Pillar detail from the Kadelakalu Ganesha Temple.
Pillar detail from the Kadelakalu Ganesha Temple.

There were true elephants to be found as well.  One peculiar building was the Mahanavami Dibba, a large elevated platform from which the king would watch military displays. Carved around the edges were scenes from life in ancient Hampi as well as images of distant places as described by Chinese, Portuguese, and Arabic visitors.  A brag book of the city’s wealth and influence, if you will.

Elephants parading along the Mahanavami Dibba.
Elephants parading along the Mahanavami Dibba.
Detail from the Mahabavami Dibba.
Detail from the Mahabavami Dibba.

Rare was the building with no elephants.  Sadly, when the Moghuls invaded, they damaged almost everything in the city.  I never did see an elephant sculpture with its trunk intact.  But they were charming nonetheless!

Simon appreciates the elephants too.
Simon appreciates the elephants too.  This guy was at the gates of the archaeological museum.
The ancient Royal Elephant Stables.  The grass was so lush and verdant!  Hmm...
The ancient Royal Elephant Stables. The grass was so lush and verdant! Hmm…
Found this stubby little guy at Vittala Temple. I think his name should be Stampy.
IMGP6466
Trunkless elephant at the Krishna Temple.
There was a group of art students practicing at the Krishna Temple.  I guess I'm not the only one to be smitten by the elephants!
There was a group of art students practicing at the Krishna Temple. I guess I’m not the only one to be smitten by the elephants!
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