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Hazara Rama Temple -2, Hampi, Karnataka (BW) | by Mukul Banerjee (www.mukulbanerjee.com)
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Hazara Rama Temple -2, Hampi, Karnataka (BW)

Situated in the Royal Enclosure, this temple for Lord Rama is popularly called “Hazari Rama Temple” or “Hazara Rama Temple” because of the large number of Ramayana panels on the walls. This temple is believed to have been the private place of worship of the Royal family.

 

Originally, the temple consisted of a sanctum, an ardha mantapa and a pillared hall to which an open porch with tall and elegant pillars was added subsequently. A high wall encloses the entire complex with the main entrances set on the east. To the south is a small doorway, which leads to the Durbar Area. The pillar hall is notable for its unique pillars in black-stone. They are set on a raised stone platform in the middle of the hall. The tall and elegant pillars of the open porch are also worth a second look. The other structures in this temple complex are a shrine for Devi and Utsava Mantapa.

 

As the name indicates, this temple is famous for its many Ramayana panels. This is the only temple in Hampi where the exterior walls have boldly chiselled bas-reliefs. These bas-reliefs are narrative in nature. The Ramayana epic is carved in detail. Incidents in the story like Dasaratha performing a sacrifice to beget sons, the birth of Rama, his exile into the forest, the abduction of Sita and the ultimate fight between Rama and Ravana are all carved in a vivid manner. In these panels, the story of Rama and through it the triumph of good over evil is brought out. The genesis of Hampi dates back to the age Ramayana when it was the monkey kingdom Kishkindha.

 

This temple now unused is situated in the royal enclosure of the city and was probably the king's private shrine. The enclosure walls of the temple are exceptional in a way that they are both carved on the outside as well as inside. The outer friezes depict horses, elephants, dancing girls and infantry in procession; the inner panels show scenes from the Hindu epic, the Ramayana. The enclosure wall also has panels on the exterior side. The boldly carved panels are in five horizontal rows, one above the other, representing a procession of elephants with riders and attendants, prancing horses with riders and rider less horses led by grooms, wrestlers and soldiers in procession witnessed by a few seated royal figures. These panels represent symbolically the power of the rulers and the might of their fighting forces paraded annually at the time of the Dusshera festival.

 

On the wall of the god's sanctum are two rare depictions of Vishnu as the Buddha. Though the temple is small it is a fine example of the skill of Vijayanagara’s sculptors. Only master craftsmen can coax filigree and lace out of Deccan stone.

 

HAMPI

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The city of Hampi bears exceptional testimony to the vanished civilization of the kingdom of Vijayanagar, which reached its apogee under the reign of Krishna Deva Raya (1509-30). It offers an outstanding example of a type of structure that illustrates a significant historical situation: that of the kingdoms of South India which, menaced by the Muslims, were occasionally allied with the Portuguese of Goa.

The austere, grandiose site of Hampi was the last capital of the last great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar. Its fabulously rich princes built Dravidian temples and palaces which won the admiration of travellers between the 14th and 16th centuries. Conquered by the Deccan Muslim confederacy in 1565, the city was pillaged over a period of six months before being abandoned.

As the final capital of the last of the great kingdom of South India, that of the Vijayanagar, Hampi, enriched by the cotton and the spice trade was one of the most beautiful cities of the medieval world. Its palaces and Dravidian temples were much admired by travellers, be they Arab (Abdul Razaak), Portuguese (Domingo Paes) or Italian (Nicolò dei Conti).

Conquered by the Muslims after the battle of Talikota in 1565, it was plundered over six months and then abandoned. Imposing monumental vestiges, partially disengaged and reclaimed, make of Hampi today one of the most striking ruins of the world.

The temples of Ramachandra (1513) and Hazara Rama (1520), with their sophisticated structure, where each supporting element is scanned by bundles of pilasters or colonnettes which project from the richly sculpted walls, may be counted among the most extraordinary constructions of India. In one of the interior courtyards of the temple of Vitthala, a small monument of a chariot which two elephants, sculpted in the round, struggle to drag along is one of the unusual creations, the favourite of tourists today as well as travellers of the past.

Besides the temples, the impressive complex of civil, princely or public buildings (elephant stables, Queen's Bath, Lotus Mahal, bazaars, markets) are enclosed in the massive fortifications which, however, were unable to repulse the assault of the five sultans of Deccan in 1565.

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Taken on March 8, 2010