Nov 22, 2017

Blister bug or Black-Red beetle

This beautiful creature was spotted by Nilesh, a biker-friend from Pune, at the Hampi's Elephant Stables.

The six legged insect could be a "blister bug" or "red and black striped beetle." I'm not sure what the correct name is.

An early morning exploration of Hampi's wilderness will yield lot of interesting creatures... insects are generally less active in cold weather, so capturing them would be easier.Once the sun is up and air is warm, insects become more active and more sensitive to movement around them.
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Nov 18, 2017

inner domes at Queen's Bath, Hampi

Queen's Bath is one of the most visited and liked spots of Hampi. The four-sided enclosure houses a water pavilion open to the sky. Around the bath area is a rectangular corridor with screens. The corridor's roof is decorated with equally spaced several domes, every dome is unique.. a mix of floral, and geometric patterns. Few have imitation of metal chains. The domes' perimeter are circular, star, octagonal, hexagonal or square shaped. These 500 year old art works are not easy to maintain yet they are preserved well - thanks to the care-takers.

We went around clockwise starting near the entrance. This is an octagram with lotus at the center. Most domes have lotus at the center. These art works are made of mortar.. wondering how they worked supported the wet material.

The next two domes are squares and stepped.. like an inverse Gopura.


Octagram ~ octagonal star inside an octagon.

16-spoke wheel and a Lotus hub.

Dome of chandeliers and chains.

Large lotus dome.

Off all domes, this is the only asymmetric design.

This looks like a spiderweb ..however, it seems more like a net created of metal strips with rivets at intersections.

Another form of octagonal star. The eight stripes diverging from the hub look like a ceiling fan blades. They also be perceived as eight converging stripes.

A cart-wheel.

Lotus in full bloom and 8 chains.

An octagonal star with diamond shaped niches. The circular dome's perimeter is lined with little intersecting arches. This is probably the most beautiful of all domes here.

An complex octagonal star ..unfortunately the hub is missing.

A eight-pointed star, its center is a hollow octagon.

This is another chandelier and chain dome, sadly the art work has fallen off.

The arches around the perimeter seems like balconies.

A eight-blade ceiling fan. Simple yet elegant.

Another web of metal strips and chains.

The care-taker referred to this dome as a jhumki ..a type of jewelry worn by women.

Another lotus.

All these designs are a mix of Hindu and Islamic art. The octagon star is a symbol of AshtaLakshmi. The Lotus is again a sacred flower in Hinduism. The metallic chains and stripes seem to be Islamic, so are the diamond-shaped niches. From the looks these seem to be created by junior or trainee artists.. that's my opinion. Vijayanagara kings did spend a lot on luxury which did create employment for artists. Its quite possible some of these art work might be designed by the king's family members.

Here's a link to my account of the first visit.. the Queen's Bath House.
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Nov 11, 2017

Zenana Enclosure - palace ruins

Aug 13, 2017
Lotus Mahal is the item of attraction in Zenana Enclosure. Usually tourists see the palace and move on to the Elephant Stables. But tourists who patiently look around find more than just the Mahal. Within the enclosure are the following- two water tanks or pools, a palace pedestal, watch towers and the treasury building. The palace pedestal is what remains of another palace which stood here once upon a time which would have been slightly larger than the Kamal Mahal. The two water tanks are simple constructions ..stone lined pits. The palace is north facing. The north entrance steps are flanked by two damaged stone elephants ..image the grandeur in its original condition. 

View from the platform. The walls are made of stones and lime mortar; the outer surface consists of  sculpted stone blocks and the gap is filled with earth and lime mortar. I'm guessing the open space would be covered with flower and fruit bearing trees ..now we have only Neem trees.

View of the palace from the western side. This picture was shot from the shade of a red-orange Frangipani trees. The flowers are fragrant and mix of warm colors ..red, yellow, orange (see inset).

The two palaces and two water tanks are positioned diagonally opposite so that both palaces are kind of equidistant to the tanks. This tank is more like a swimming pool. Besides the pool is a granite mound ..from where this picture was shot.
From the same point, I turned around to get a glimpse of the elephant stables. The enclosure walls are at the lowest here and small watch tower on the eastern wall.

Panning little to the right is a beautiful Neem tree. The caretakers have planted lot of White Frangipani cuttings ..Neem and Frangipani thrive in Hampi's rocky terrain.

Two very ols Neem trees, probably close to 100 years.

In the northwest corner of the enclosure is an ancient structure known as the Treasury Building. Currently it is a museum of paintings and sculptures. Among the items is Vijayanagara family tree. The high walls and tall watch towers explains the reason for security. The rulers had the palaces built so that they could remain close to their movable wealth.

Among the sculptures is a well preserved elephant about 2' tall. It is decorated with jewelry befitting a royal elephant.

Hampi was known for its markets. Areas were marked for different types of precious commodities like precious metals and stones, expensive fabric, exotic food and spices, etc. I remember visiting four markets- Virupaksha Bazar, Pan Supari Bazar, Krishna Market and Soolai Bazar. It is said that jewelry and gems were sold in open baskets.. the markets were so secure. Below is a artistic depiction of one of the markets.

The north east wall where it touches the watch tower. A sculpture of Lor Hanuman is embedded into the wall to signify its strength. If you look at the watch tower base, it has an opening, probably to an exit for rain water.

In the immediate vicinity of Zenana enclosure are the following-
Ranga Temple Complex
Elephant Stables
Guards Quarters
Teanali Rama Pavilion
State Archaeology Office
Pattada Yellama Devasthana
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Nov 8, 2017

500 year tamarind tree of Devara Hipparagi

August 19, 2017

Devara Hipparagi village east of Bijapur on Bijapur-Jevargi road. On the outskirts of the village is stream, on its bank is Mallayya Devasthana. The temple is quite popular in this region. The temple has 1000+ years history. The temple popular by itself is also known for its tall Deepatambha (also called as Mahalagumb) and tamarind tree. The lamp-tower is almost 70 feet tall. Its is said that light at fire at the tower top was visible as far as Bijapur hence this was like a lighthouse for travelers. The tower was probably built during Adil Shahi's time. The tamarind tree is said to be planted back then ..going by the look of its trunk, the tree is really old. It is similar to the trees seen at Adil Shahi summer resort at Kummatgi.

I'm guessing this isn't the only ancient tree. Probably there are few more trees in the vicinity especially along the stream.

Next time when I visit Devera Hippargi I'll check out points D and E marked in this Google Maps screen-shot here.

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Nov 4, 2017

Zenana Enclosure - Lotus Mahal and Watch Towers

Aug 13, 2017
This was the second day of our Anegundi-Hampi trip. We left Anegundi by 7-30 AM, had breakfast at Kamalapur, visited Octogonal Pavilion, Chandrashekara Temple, Queen's Bath before coming to Zenana Enclosure. Here we had to purchase entry ticket which is valid for Elephant Stables as well. Within the high walls of Zenana Enclosure is the beautiful Kamala Mahal. It was also known as Chitragani Mahal. Now it is generally known as Lotus Mahal. As you see, the two-storey structure resembles a fully bloomed Lotus. It is symmetrical in plan and elevation in all directions.. excepting for its stairway tower which seems to be added later.


The building architecture is Indo Sarscenic, a mix of Hindu and Muslim designs. The structure has 24 pillars connected by stepped arches, sloping canopies and stepped domes on the roof. The building is designed for air flow keeping the interior cool and pleasant. This was used by the royal family members, mainly the women folk. It was also used by the king for meeting with ministers.


The Zenana was a secure area, it is enclosed by high walls measuring 30 feet from the ground. In plan the Zenana is irregular in shape and has two towers on diagonally opposite corners, one each on the southern and northern walls. The towers are almost 60 feet tall and their design matches Lotus Mahal's looks. Besides the guards, The tower night have been used by

The northern face. As per Vaastu, the building entrance is places at the north-east corner. The stairway through the tower is the only way to the first floor. The tower design is typical to Vijayanagara architecture.. a similar tower can be seen at Gagan Mahal at Penukonda. However, the tower at Penukonda is capped by a stepped dome.

The watch tower at southeast corner. This tower has balconies in two levels and capped by stepped dome. This tower is closer to Lotus Mahal theme. Unfortunately entry into the Mahal and towers is restricted to general public.

As seen from northeast.

As seen from southeast. The structure would look amazing in early morning light when the Sun is just above the surrounding walls.
Its quite amazing to be seeing this building in the midst of Hampi's ruins. Probably some commander of the Muslim forces must have liked and had it protected for personal use. Anyway, the structure's decorative murals have survived, of course with lot of care by ASI. Its quite possible the building was colorfully painted during its heydays.

Pushp posing under an arch. Similarly, the royal members might have had their portraits done by painters.

On the eastern wall is an small passage which connects the Zenana to Elephant tables and Guards Quarters. The tower here seems like the chief security officer's office. Originally, this tower might have been double the height.

The enclosing cannot be ignored. Standing 30 feet  high, they quarantined privacy. The walls have somehow survived the onslaught. These walls are scarily tall because of their narrow width.

Besides the Lotus temple, there are two water pavilions, platform of another palace and treasury building. With the treasury located here, this had to be a high security zone. That explains the unusually high walls.

A cross section can be seen at the damaged portion of the eastern wall. A cannon blast must have blown off this huge gap here. In the background is the Shikhara of Rangana Devasthana and the huge ficus next to Pattada Yellamma Devasthana.

We move towards the Elephant Stables and Guards Quarters.
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