Aug 26, 2017

Mahanavami Dibba at Royal Enclosure, Hampi

Dec 23, 2013
We had left Bellary early morning; our plan for the day was to see the ash-mound near Kudathini, Kannada University at Kamalapur and spend some time at Hampi before returning to Dharwad. We arrived at Hampi minutes before noon. We wanted to spend about three hours and leave so that we reached Dharwad well before dinner time. I'd seen the Royal Enclosure during my first visit in 1996, during my biking trip with Gulli.

This area is enclosed by well built stone walls, it was meant to be as good as a fort since the king's family resided here. Within the enclosure are several interesting monuments such as  Mahanavami Dibba, the stepped well, Krishnadevaraya audience hall, palace ruins, the mint, secret subterranean chamber, and ruins of temples. Also there is a network of channels for supplying water through out the enclosure. At the enclosure entrance is a pair of massive stone doors. The doors were meant to function just like wooden doors.. truly an amazing creation. The sight of them gives an idea of how grand Vijayanagara was.

So here's Mahanavami Dibba.. the huge stage for celebrating festivals.

The platform's sides are decorated with sculptures depicting battle, hunting, dances, sports, etc.

A signage close to the monument describes it as follows:
This pyramidal, three tired stone platform, rising to a height of 8 Mts is located to the northeast of the royal enclosure. It was one of the most important ceremonial structures of royal use, built in granite and subsequently encased in sculptured schist stone. It is dated to Circa 16th Century AD.
The terraced platform is nearly 35 Sq. Mts. and has an approach flight of steps on the east, west and south. The southern flight of steps has a sculptured balustrade that opens on the west. The western flight of steps are located almost in the center of the platform and the two eastern flight of steps have common chamber, which opens on the east. Each tier of the platform has sculptured mouldings in the typical Vijayanagara style of architecture. The lower tier has low relief sculptural friezes depicting the socio-cultural activities of the time.
The extant pillar bases in the center of the platform indicate the presence of a pavilion.
There are references to the use of the platform by royal family, for important festivals like Mahanavami, by Abdur Razak and Domingo Paes, visitors to Vijayanagara city in 1520 AD. and 1442-43 AD. respectively.

This is the eastern view of the stage. In the foreground is a stone-lined pit which must have been a water tank.
This is the western face of the stage; here we have a pair of opposing stairways to the stage.

The narrow staircase.

Since these staircases are at the rear of the stage, they must be for back-stage activities like moving stuff on and off stage. It seems like the stage had wooden or some kind of flooring which is missing now.

The northeast corner of the enclosure, that's the entry point. A glimpse of the boundary wall is seen on the right side.

Looking towards east.

In the background is a large platform - that's the remains of Krishnadeveraya's audience hall.

View of Hazara Rama temple towers. In the foreground is a long rectangular pit, that must be the water server for horses.

The stage walls are covered with hundreds of sculptures, every block on the outer surface has a story to tell. Monkeys playing on a tree; elephant and horse; monkey riding a fish; peacocks.

Looking at the images, it seems like young artists were given a chance to experiment and practice their skills. Some of the images have the kiddish touch.. its possible that kids might have created many of them. I liked the middle image in the lower row; monkeys playing on a lotus. On the top-right is a strange looking animal between the horse and goats.

The two big men seems like wrestlers; in the presence of some noble man speaking to his subordinates. Then there are two young women engaged in martial arts. The lower row is dedicated to peacocks and ducks.

Here we have a hunter who's shot arrows are deer and his dog is engaged in a duel with a ram. On the upper row is a noble couple inspecting horses.

Here are musicians and dancers. These images seem to be created by an experienced artist. Note the heavy jewelry worn by the women folk. The drummer seems to be attired in deer leather or some type of thick fabric.

This corner is dedicated to elephants, camels and horses. In the midst of the camels is a big bull.. ridden by a man. The lower rows are dedicated to hunters and hunted.

Panning to the left; check out the girl-archer leaning on her bow; her attendant is pulling out a thorn from her foot. To her right, the man with the second camel is attired in a panchee. Unlike other men he's not wearing a dhoti. Then there's a huge monkey seemingly troubling a woman with a pot. The detailing of the woman is lovely; clad in a saree and jewels, she's showing off her sexy figure.

Panning more to the left. An elephant is uprooting a palm. Two camels face to face with a care-taker. Loved the posture of the third horse from left. Its stamping its feet proudly.

The southern entrance to Mahanavami Dibba. This wall seems to be hit by a canon ball. The stones have cracked but remained intact.

We have group of elephants in playful mood. Below the top row, on the left are two dancing men. The bottom row shows a group of men in a procession.

The peacock in the bottom row is an interesting creation. Seems like deer was the most hunted animal then. The artists have depicted the deer nicely, they are trying to evade the by leaping high and long. The presence of so many camels here shows that Vijayanagara rulers connection with Arabian merchants.

In this last picture, the eye-catching character is the archer with a big mustache.

Amazing to be seeing scenes of those bygone period.


1 comment:


Very nice,I visited Hampi in the year 2012,but due to lack of knowledge I overlooked such detailed marvelous sculptures.I have to visit Hampi in future definitely.