Spread across 41.5 square kilometres, the UNESCO world heritage of Hampi in Karnataka astonishes tourists with its architectural marvels. The structures here are mostly the remnants of the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire (14th-16th Cent CE), located close to the river Tungabhadra, and surrounded by hill ranges. The 1,600 or so surviving remains include ancient temples, treasury buildings, bazaars, remains of royal pavilions and platforms, aquatic structures, treasury buildings, and more.
Here are 5 things you must check out next time you are in Hampi.
Pinhole camera mechanism in a temple complex
Virupaksha was the patron deity of the Vijayanagara rulers. The guidebook of the Archaelogical Survey of India (ASI) says that it was built in the 15th century. Repairs and some extensions were carried out in 1510 by King Krishnadevaraya. The temple is a popular spot for visitors. However, most people do not know about the pinhole camera that exists near the shrine to sage Vidyaranya (the advisor of Krishnadevaraya) through which you can see the temple spire in an inverted form.
Inbuilt cooling system in a palace
The Lotus Mahal is located in the queen’s fort. It combines Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture. This palace was built for the queens to rest and relax in during hot summer months. Towards the rear of the mahal, there is a water well. Pipes extend from the well to into the wall of the palace. The water from the well was manually pumped and circulated around the palace walls to cool the building.
When you visit the Vijaya Vithala temple complex, look out for a 'phalapurja' mandap which was constructed by Krishnadeva Raya, apparently for his second wife Chinna Devi, a dancer. It is said that the queen used to perform here for the king. Each pillar has the picture of an instrument engraved on it and makes the sound of that instrument when tapped on.
A secret chamber in the court
You may have visited the Royal Enclosure while in Hampi. But did you know about the secret passage with steps leading to an underground chamber? The torch holders present here were used to illuminate the dark space. It is rumoured that this is where war plans were made, prisoners were brought in for questioning, and the king spoke to spies.
The Ramayana one temple walls
The Hazara Rama Temple has scenes from Ramayana engraved on its walls. In the inner complex, if you move clockwise and take rounds of the temple (or 'pradakshina'), you will see the enitre story of the epic depicted here.
This article is a submission by one of our readers, and part of our new series #OTReadersWrite.