Dreamy Hampi Empire

If you are on a solo trip in search of inspiration, Hampi is the place of peace and filled with air of enthusiasm. Hampi is a tiny village located on the banks of Tungabhadra River and Group of Monuments scattered on broad acres. It is counted as most ancient village and amongst the largest and most prosperous cities of the world during its period of power and vigour. Hapmi remained an integral part of the capital city of Vijayanagar Empire in 13th – 15th century AD. Being located in a strategically favourable position river on one side and hilly terrains surrounding the other. It is a place og bold boulders, carved temples, superior buildings of civil and military, grand stables, high watch towers within the fortification walls.

Krishnadevrai, King of Vijayanagar initiated building up structures from his own residence and Darbar – an official gathering place and later on other structures were added.

We Indians believe that the Lord Shiva is the creator of universe and life. Being patron deity of Hampi, the main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva i.e. Virupaksha Temple. Highly decorated ‘Gopuram’ – an entrance gateway to the temple is a unique feature of Dravidian style and only seen in South Indian temple complexes. This Dravidian architecture has perfect geometrical plan and section. “Laxmi” is an elephant of VirupakshaTemple, she will bless you for a coin or some fruits.

BadaviLinga is the largest monolithic Linga measuring 3 feet, it is a statue form of Lord Shiva. A water channel is linked to the sanctum of the Linga which always remains submerged in water.

The most beautiful and famous part of Hampi is Vitthala Temple complex. Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, built in 15th century AD is an architectural gem that consists of wondrously created musical pillared halls, pavilions and other small temples. The most notably the colossal stone chariot which is an iconic.

Lotus Mahal or ChitranginiMahal located in the Zanana Enclosure. This is meant for the queen and other royal ladies to spend quality time. The palace outlooks as one of finest example of Indo – Islamic architecture with the base of typifying Vijayanagar style while upper pyramidal towers depicting Islamic architectural style.

Queen’s Bath is the most private place built for the bath which is highly decorated, most comfortable and advanced techniques were used for water supply. Military buildings were built for storage and trade purposes, storage of weapons, grains, etc. Elephant stable is the most attractive eight compartment structure. The alternate square and hexagonal base dome construction is so superior in large stones and calcium mortar. Pointed arches, domes, symmetrical planning are the impressions of Mughal style.

The number of religious buildings like Achyutraya Temple, Chandramauleshwara Temple, Jain Temple, Krishna Temple, Vitthala and Virupaksha Temple are the major temple complexes. Along the entrances of temples, specific trade structures are avail. There were trades of gold, silver, precious stones – gems, metallic pottery and ladies ornaments. Trade were the major economic source of that time.

Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Karnataka government and UNESCO are collaboratively working on conservation of this 600 acres heritage village. The most visited and lovable tourist destination, 3 – 4 days will not that enough to explore Hampi.

P.S. – New York Times enlisted Hampi as a 2nd  “Must See Global Destination” !!!


Golden Temple

The ‘Pool of the nectar Immortality’ and this is home to the Harimandir Sahib, the Golden Temple. This sacred pool was used as the meditation place by early puritans and philosophers. Among them Buddha was the first one and much later Guru Nanak in 14th century AD lived here and drew strength from this peaceful site. Guru Nanak believed in equality regardless of caste, gender, religion and from this concept, Sikhism was born.

The foundation stone of the temple was laid in 1588 by the Sufi Saint, Mian Mir. Over time waters were continued within a lake and the temple complex grew around and into it. The Golden Temple itself sits on a platform over the water.

The temple’s architecture is a fusion of Hindu and Muslim styles yet it’s a coevolution of two. During the reign of Maharana Ranjit Singh in 17th century AD Hari Mandir was richly decorated with marble sculptures, golden gilding and number of precious stones. Within the sanctuary, lies the Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture of the Sikhs. This scripture is a volume of devotional poems, prayers and hymns composed by the ten Sikh Gurus and many Muslim and Hindu saints. Beings at sunrise and up to sunset, everyday these hymns are chanted with exquisite flute and drums and string instruments along. It is a delicate but powerful state background for pilgrims strolling around lake. An underground spring feeds the sacred lake and pilgrims immense themselves for cleansing of soul.

Next to the temple complex are colossal dormitories and dining hall facilitating all pilgrims. All who visit the temple are invited to share a meal before they leave. Around 40,000 visitors are fed at Lungar each day out of temple funds. Please do watch episode from ‘Mega Kitchens’ telecasted on National Geographic Channel. The celebrity Chef Vikas Khanna staring in it and the procedure of Lungar at Golden Temple pictured so perfectly. It may inspire you to volunteer at Kitchen and contribute your share, as it did with me.

This is a place of intense of spiritual excitement for Sikhs and indeed anyone who visits from around the world.



Indian Temple Architecture

One of the India’s architectural traditions is Hinduism – a religion that focuses on the worship of powerful gods and godesse. It is hardly surprising that diversity of building materials and techniques in India. Temples have always taken an important place in people’s cultural and spiritual life, from the early times and till now a days. Temples were usually built in marked places of special holiness. The legends associated them with the acts of Vishnu, shiva, Durga and other gods.

The main structural elements of the temples were plinth, sanctury and superstructure. The stone base of temple itself symbolises Attar, on which temple itself was sacrifice to  a deity. The temple Architecture is a scientific phenomenon. The basic concept the determines the worthiness of the structure and form of temple is, ”layout of temple is synonymous ( similar ) to the layout of Cosmos.” Technically, the plan called as ”Mandala” or “Vastu pada” with the grid of spaces of equal dimensions.

The distinctive architectural styles of Hindu temples have so developed due to its broad geographical, climate, culture, history and region differences which are specially significant in two major plains North and South of India.

  1. Nagara – North Indian Temple Style
  2. Dravida – South Indian Temple Style.

Following are some photographs of South Indian Temple style or Dravidian style.

Location – Hampi, Karnataka State.

It is a World Heritage Architecture Site by UNESCO.



Detailing at plinth


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Small temple at Hampi

Ornamented Columns



The piece of land upon which the temple stands is itself a sacred location “Tirtha” and this site selection is only the first step in building a temple. Another important aspect is the “Vastu – Purusha Mandala” that is the rough architectural blueprint for the foundation. It serves both practical and spiritual foundation of temple.

The temples in India are found everywhere varying from small village to metropolitan cities. It not only forms a link between God and Man and a place of worship but also the cradle of knowledge, art, architecture and culture.

The elements of Hindu Temple are, Gopuram ( Southern Style ), Mandala, Garbhagriha, Sikhara.

Gopuram can only be seen in Southern India. it means a entrance gate to the temple. Those are often richly decorated and tapering height.

Garbhagriha is the dark sacred place where statue of God or Godesse is placed. It is often highly ornate and replete with thousands of sculptured images. The simple darkness of the sanctum reflects its function as a “womb house” one of the meaning of Garbhagriha.

Sikhara means the mountain peak. A rising structure over the garbhagriha. It means that deity is at a high than the others and its connection between deity and universal space. Sikharas of North Indian temple style are curvilinear / beehive shaped and in South Indian temple style sikharas are progressively smaller storeys of pavilions.

Following are some photographs of North Indian Temple Style or Nagara Style

Location – Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh state

It is a World Heritage Architecture Site by UNESCO.

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The Hindu Temples has been a subject of study for nemerous historians, architects, archaeologists, art historian, religious scholars, photo – journalist and common people for their interest. The scope for study of temple is not bound only in regions of India but also the form, transformation, building techniques, structural analysis and safety analysis.

Hope this short description of Hindu Temple Architecture was helpful to you and of some interest.

Until next time,