Zenana Enclosure in Hampi

in India
on: 31 October 2012

The Lotus Mahal is one of the main highlights in the royal Zenana Enclosure in Hampi. The two-storey structure has ornate plaster decorations above the multiple archways leading into a pavilion. The upper floors have balconies with arched windows while the center dome is in the shape of a lotus bud.

Hampi was once the capital of the ancient Vijayanagara empire, which was said to stretch from the Arabian Sea to the Indian Ocean. It was home to a population of half a million and protected by more than a million soldiers. The 26 square kilometers area in Hampi still contain sacred sites and palatial areas of old opened to visitors. The still active 7th century-built Virupaksha Temple is also found here.

It was in the evening in the main street of Hampi. I was loitering aimlessly when suddenly this street band just appeared out of nowhere and started banging on their drums. There was also a string of trumpeters accompanying them at the right timing.

The locals and tourists were taken by surprise and were thoroughly delighted by the flash-mob style performance. Some of the old local ladies nearby started to strut spontaneously with the drum beat. Behind the street band is the iconic gopura of the 7th century-built Virupaksha Temple that is still in use up to today. Hampi was the seat of power during the days of the Vijayanagara Empire that conquered South India.

The Virupaksha Temple on the banks of the Tungabhadra River is considered to be the most sacred sanctuary in Hampi. This image shows the nine-storey elaborate gopura tower. The temple was said to be built in the 7th century and still in use today. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva, which is locally known as Virupaksha.

Hampi was the capital of the ancient Vijayanagara Empire. It was founded in 1336 by two brothers, Harihara and Bukka. The city was enormously wealthy due to its monopoly on the trade of spices and cotton, diamonds and pearls, and was said that the palaces were plated with gold. In the barren arid landscape filled with numerous large boulders, the city was built using the rocks from the surroundings. Naturally, the city was built parallel to the river.

Other than the largely intact Virupaksha Temple, there are numerous temples, palaces, aqueducts and elephant stables in various state of restoration or ruins, scattered all over the 26-sq-km site.

Hello... I Am Josh

A Travel Writer & Photographer from South East Asia

A little about me

Josh For some, it's shopping therapy. Others, movie therapy. Yet more, reading therapy. For me, it's writing therapy.
Why writing? When I travel, I enjoy first-hand the experience like in shopping therapy. But when I write about my travels, I live vicariously the experience again, as if like a movie sequel (or more like GroundHog Day, except that this is fun!). Yes, writing evokes the memories, the fun and the not-so-fun but all-in-all it gives the satisfaction of reliving the sense of place once more.
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