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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