Ruins of Hampi-rich in sculpture and greatest achievement of Indian art
The relics the final period of classical Hindu art are to be seen at Hampi, once called Vijayanagar, the capital of the great Vijayanagar Empire. Krishnadevaraya, the last great king of this empire who lived in the 16th century, was a patron of art and is responsible for the Rayala gopuras and the excellent carvings of the late Vijayanagar period seen all over South India.
The Pattabhirama temple at Hampi is the largest and it is remarkable for its lofty dimensions. The Dassera Dibba or Vijay Bhavani, a throne platform built celebrate festivals, is replete with elaborate carvings of soldiers, dancing girls, horses and elephants.
This `house of victory’ and the king’s audience hall are terraces surrounded by pillared pavilions above which rise pyramidal roofs. The most exquisite of the remaining buildings at Hampi is the vital temple dedicated to Vithoba. The Hazara Ram temple, also baroque, is decorated with scenes from the Ramayana.
The Pampapati temple houses Virupaksha, the patron deity of the Vijayanagar kings, the `Mustard seed’ Ganesa and the Kadalekalu Ganesa are carved out of a single rock. Monoliths of the Shiva Linga and Narasimha may also be seen.
The ruins at Hampi are rich in sculpture and are among the greatest achievements of Indian art. They seem so incredible today that one can barely imagine the splendor that must have existed once upon a time at the height of the glory of the empire.
The Austere City of Bijapur
The 16th and 17th centuries also saw a burst of Muslim architectural activity under the Adli Shai dynasty of Bijapur. A city of austere forms and severe shapes, the restrained style is occasionally relieved by lattice and filigree work.
The most imposing structure-Gol Gumbaz
The most imposing structure, however, is the Gol Gumbaz, second only dimension to St. Peter’s Rome. Fantastic for its sheer size and engineering skill, its interior is starkly severe. Its whispering gallery, 40 meters in diameter, echoes any sound twelve times over.
Another seat of Deccani Muslim rule was Bidar. It has the tombs of the Bhamani and Baridi kings. The old fort and the new fort dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries are situated here and contain the three grand palaces-the Rangeen Mahal, the Cheeni Mahal and the Turkish Mahal –and the Madrasa or collage of Mahmud Gawan resembling those of Bokara and Samarkand. The Masjid at Gulbargha is a massive structure much larger than the Taj at Agra.