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.)
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.
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!