Monday 8 August 2011


Immortal Hampi,that was Vijayanagar
Welcome to Hampi that was once the matchless Vijayanagar, the ‘fascinating lost but living City of imperishable Beauty and Culture, of undying Glory and Grandeur’ to gather a fulsome view of what immense, irremediable havoc inhuman, spiteful misadventure, unbridled hatred, fanaticism of Bamiyan mode and their attendant concomitant, wanton destruction can wreak and cause.
   Hampi was a magnificent and proud city of distinction that stands now naked shorn of its cultured beauty and multisided splendour ruined with vengeance.
Hampi structures presented a happy blend of the ancient Hindu and foreign architectural styles, drawing on the best in the latter in a robust spirit of integration. ‘Hampi is a standing monument of overwhelming scale, splendour and grandeur in conception, planning and construction and in the tragedy of its destruction and desolation - victim and evidence of unqualified spite’. It intrigues saner elements how hatred could muster such colossal blindness to human life and culture and extend its spiteful arm to historic structures, religious edifices and cultural centers!
Welcome to this historic City of Vijayanagar of lavish, multi-sided splendour, now popularly called Hampi. Architecture, sculpture, spiritual and artistic edifices built with love and affection, vision and wisdom, in their unmatched grace and grandeur, culture and camaraderie, had once found their chosen home here and enlarged as time passed on with hopes to last to eternity even as charming bridal girls deck themselves with fascinating silken attires and shining ornaments to enhance their own God-given allure and beauty!
Welcome to this Holy City of arresting charm that shines through its massive, ever-smiling ruins holding eternal lessons to illumine and highlight, to demonstrate and convey the harsh fact, bringing to instant view that the Soul of beauty and culture, the two passionate wings of an ancient civilisation, would never allow itself to be totally set at naught and annihilated and that this Jewel of civilised culture lives on smiling sadly, holding aloft her undying majesty amidst ruins. The city that has lost its glory, the temple that is deprived of its deity, the river that has lost its springs, the lady shorn of her charm and the artiste deprived of his vision and brush speak much more eloquently, its suppressed, unenviable tears of sadness screened from public gaze.
Witness in leisure and ponder in depth how this lost city still shines and blooms even amidst slumbering ruins. Pray, halt and give play to your intellect for a moment how decades should have seen intensive constructive activity by thousands of dedicated designers, engineers, architects, artistes, carpenters, masons, etc. to create and how quick and reckless it had been to baneful vandals to reduce them all to shambles.
 This sublime City of harmony between nature, man and his creation now stands as a symbol of human wickedness and wretchedness. Every piece of interest has a moral or story to whisper unto you. ‘Arise, Awake’, as our venerable Vivekananda had thundered, whip up your inspiring imaginative faculties. May your eyes see things through and ears hear what all are vital to inspire and enliven your visit with a feast of the fullest view of Hampi, i.e., Vijayanagar, the Capital of Vijayanagar Empire that flourished with dignity and might during 1336-1565!
Hampi, on the southern bank of river Tungabhadra, in Hospet taluk of Bellary district in Karnataka, is about 12 km. from Hospet Town, which is easily accessible by railway or road from Bangalore, Hubli, Hyderabad, Tirupati and Miraj. One can reach Hampi from Hospet via Kaddi Rampura or via Kamalapura. Town buses ply between Hospet and Sri Virupaksha Temple at Hampi. Tourism Development Corporation plies a sightseeing bus too.
‘The fish in the water is silent;
the animal on the earth is
noisy; the bird in the air is singing.
‘But man has in him the
silence of the sea,
the noise of the earth
and the music of  the air’
, sang Tagore. The great poet presumably missed the existence of the ruins of Hampi presenting a magnificent atmosphere of divine calm and serene peace, the noise of the volatile world and the classical music of the spheres.
The place is the ancient Pampa Sarovar in Kishkinda of the Ramayana and was the capital of mighty Vali. A 7th century Chalukya inscription and an 11th century inscription call it Pampa kshetra. Another inscription call it Pampapati Mahakula. It is hailed as Virupakshapura, Hosapattana, Hosa Hampipattana, Hastinavali, Hampi Hastinavali, Kunjarakona.
Vijayanagar Empire was the most powerful kingdom in South India in1336-1565 C.E. Krishna Devaraya was its  ruler. Culture and arts flourished to dizzy heights during the period. Religious tolerance was the feature of the rule. The last ruler Ramarai was defeated by the combined armies of three Sultanates aided by the betrayal of the muslim wing of Vijayanagar army.
Presumably, the founders chose this Hampi site as much for its memorable heritage and antiquity as for its natural beauty and strategic value in those days of multiple aggression. It is a bewitching place of  charm amidst hills and dales with the beautiful River Tungabhadra passing silently through it . Even amidst massive ruins, one does not fail to appreciate the profound glitter, glory, grandeur and innate beauty of the city.
 The armies of the Sultans ransacked it at will, demolished and destroyed whatever they could lay their hands on for six months till they felt exhausted, their energy got evaporated and their bodies and hands declined to indulge further in the nefarious act.
Splendour and glory, culture and civilisation, beauty and grace greet the visitors now with eyes moist each whispering a pregnant story of sorrow or a happy episode. And what one sees now is what was mercifully left not out of karunya but because the ultimate of destruction had been reached!
That wonderful city in ruins has volumes of message to whisper on what a mighty, wondrous world of arts and culture it was in its hay days of glitter and glory. The landscape is expressive speaking its own visual language.
One walks through resplendent history even as the ruins speak with visible authority of their once glory and grandeur, fame, conception and perfection and their subsequent tragic tale of venomous destruction and hapless desolation.
“Hampi overwhelms in the scale and splendour of its grand conception, matchless plannings, dedicated construction, cultured growth and fabulous monuments as well as in the tragedy of its destruction and desolation.”                     
Article by : ‘Garland’ N. Rajagopalan
Source: Bhavan's Journal 15 March 2007
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