May 26, 2018

stone pillars and turned discs, Hampi

August 13, 2017
We arrived near Mahanavami Dibba around 1-45 PM. I found a spot of shade to park my Santro and happened to notice a pair of identical pillars. Simple looking but beautiful. The circular pillars had square bases and spherical top. It seems like the pillar's circular section was turned. Close to the top-end is a circular hole. The pillars are positioned such that the horizontal holes are aligned perfectly. It seems like a wooden pole or a metallic rod would have passed through these holes fixing it parallel to the ground.

A view through the hole.. the holes are aligned to drive a shaft through them.

Another view of the twin pillars. There are two more objects of interest here.. the stone slab and disc lying in the dirt. All these pieces seem to be related.

The middle portion of the slab has a circular hole and turning marks.. like in a lathe but the rotational axis is vertical. It seems like a circular spindle was fixed onto the plate which was rotated. And a cutting tool fixed to vertical shaft.

Here's how I'm imagining it to be. However, I'm still thinking how the job was rotated fast enough to perform the cutting action.

Looking at the job.. it has a center hole and turn marks. It seems like a work-in-progress job survived and somehow damaged. Was it meant to be a wheel or something else, I don't know.

This reminds me of the twin pillars near Zenana Enclosure which I called as elephant posts. Those pillars have two holes each which are alignment. So was that a heavier lathe. I did not see any other items near them.. something I must check out next time.

May 23, 2018

peep view

Happened to notice this shot while searching for Ranga Temple pictures. The two objects seen here are a pair of identical (almost) pillars near Zenana Enclosure. Going by the size of the pillars, I believe they were used to tether elephants. Whatever the purpose was, the pillars are beautifully finished. Each pillar has two holes of equal sizes. The holes are well honed, felt the smoothness with my finger tip. Notice the chamfered vertical edges.. to prevent damage to ropes.

Here are the pillars. The holes are large enough to allow a thick rope or metal chain to pass through. So they should be for tethering the power beasts.

Do check out these pillars, you can find them between the archaeological museum and Zenena Enclosure ticket counter.

May 19, 2018

Ranga Temple, Hampi

August 13, 2017
This temple is right besides Zenana enclosure. We decided to pay it a visit after our short break at Pattada Yellamma temple. Our biker friend from Pune, Nilesh decided to nap while we were here. The temple is situated on a slope, so when we approached the temple from west, it looked like it was below ground level. Its a mini complex consisting of two shrines and two mantapas. The huge idol of Hanuman is eye-catching.

 A signage at the temple describes the temple as..
Madhava (Ranga) Temple: Popularly known as Ranga temple, dedicated to Madhawa as per the inscription is built along with the Devi shrine in east west orientation. The Madhawa temple has a Garbhagriha, a vestibule and a large 18 pillared Mukhamantapa. The temple is known for its colossal sculpture of Hanuman three meters high, placed in Mukhamantapa. The Devi shrine is built on a raised Adhisthana of 2.5 meters high.

An inscription of the time of Sadashivaraya in the temple dated to 1545 AD records the construction of a Rangamantapa for the god Madhava by Timmaraju son of Vallabharaju exclusively for holding dance, vocal and instrumental music concerts in the temple. The pillars of this temple have sculptural depictions of Garuda, Vitthala, Surya, Balakrishna, Hanuman and Alwar. The sculptures of Krishna Leela, Vitthalam Srinivasa and episodes of Prahlada, Matsya Varaha and Narasimha incarnations of Vishnu on the architrave are of interest.

The temple has undergone some serious reinforcement to keep it standing. In the above picture, you can see a sloping wall- that's a recent addition to support the original structure. Also, inside the temple (below), there is one extra column of dressed blocks and the vestibule door-frame too. At the first glance, the mantapa and temple look top-heavy. However, the real reason for the damage could weak foundation. Anyway, happy to the structure standing. The huge idol of Hanuman is leaning on the wall, just behind the extra column.

 I can't remember seeing any deity inside but the star attraction of this temple is this well-built and slightly fierce looking Hanuman.

This is probably the largest monolith Hanuman I've seen. Impressive!

The  horizontally placed slab carries an inscription. this must be the one that is mentioned in the signage. The entire face of the slab is covered with Kannada or Telugu text.

The temple-complex courtyard is kind of littered.. many slabs are kept standing on their sides as though restoration work was abandoned before completion. On the right is a Mantapa with richly sculpted pillars depicting several characters from Hindu legends. As usual, the pillars also carry an assortment of thought provoking sculptures.

The most popular being the four monkeys.. here you see four bodies but only four pairs of limbs and two tails. However, when you look at any monkey, its complete with limbs and tail.

One of the pillars. Each pillar carries a dozen sculptures and there are at least 30 such pillars and images are unique. One can go round-n-round and get captivated by these amazing creations. Here are few examples.. Anjaneya sitting on his coiled tail to make a seat higher than the throne of Ravana. Then we have Krishna slaying Kaliya the serpent.

Then we have a beautiful damsel graced with flowing garment or a creeper. Wish the arms were slender, would've been proportional. The chubby image seems like Narasimha. It could be related to the story of Narasimha assuring protection to serpents.

These images were shot in C9 Pro. A huntress.. monkey picking a thorn from her foot. And Garuda.

This is the temple dedicated to Devi, its an incomplete structure but one planned to be really grand. Being in the vicinity of Hazara Rama temple complex, this one had to be on par.

In the foreground is the pipe to drain out liquid offerings from Garbhagudi. Functional and aesthetic but may not be cost effective :) In the background is the mantapa. See the roofing, it looks so heavy. Chalkyan builders mostly used stone roofing which really worked well and also lasted, some of the structures are intact.. I haven't seen any signs of restoration as such. I guess everything changes with time.. now we use mostly man made stuff.. bricks, cement, steel, etc.

 Another view of the stone pipe.. is it meant to depict the creature has a hollow tongue with a flowery end. Shifting focus to the main structure, it has several layers, all meant evoke a sense of grandeur.

Lastly we come to the outer wall of this little complex. its a typical Vijayanagara style stone wall with brick & mortar filling. Most temples here had their own security system, they were like lockers to store gold and other valuable stuff?

With all the incomplete constructions, probably Hampi was a prosperous and still growing city. If not for the abrupt end, it might have much more glorious. Or, was there was recession which had slowed down prosperity? Would be interesting to check out this bit with some researcher.

May 12, 2018

Sri Ranganadha Swami Devalayam, Anupu

December 26, 2017
We started our tour of Anupu archaeological site at Buddhist University Complex. A guard there told us about Ranganatha Swamy temple just down the road, two minutes walk away. Yes, the temple was ancient. We decided to give it a visit.

The temple is ancient with lot of modern touches, nevertheless, its has a history. The temple doors were closed, looks like morning rituals were done and the priest had left for the day, probably another pooja in the evening. The temple has ample space around it and well maintained. A cement tank with clean water.. I washed my arms and face, drained off some heat ..aah!

The premises consist of a temple, a mantapa, Neem tree, a storage room, temple office and Lord Anjaneya statue. It was silent, except the sound of broom scraping on the floor nearby.

A small board on the temple office had some information printed on it..
Ranganadha Swami Temple History - Nagarjuna valley known as Vijayapuri during century AD. Ikshvaku period was threatened with toal submergence by a huge lake having more than a depth of 300 feet when work on Nagarjuna Dam was proposed in the year 1954. The archaeological excavations were taken up to extent possible the historical ruins under the direction of Dr. Subramanyam in the vast area of 3700 acres. Exposing 127 sites in addition to prehistoric artifacts from stone age levels to megalithic burials. 10 of the exposed sites were transplanted on Nagarjuna Konda which is an island in the huge lake. But Shri Ranganadha appearing as Divine-Light in the dream of Shri Subramanyam asked the salvage of the temple which housed an human. Also Shri Guru Shankracharya and Sekharendra Saraswati of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham also persuaded Dr. Subramanyam to save the temple. Consequently Ranganadha  temple was reconstructed on the right bank of the 1½ mile stone on Macherla-Nagarjunakonda road by Dr. Subramanyam  with the help and assistance of his staff.

The temple was consecrated by Subramanyam along with his wife Smt. Saraswati while Sri Tangirla Subramanyam Sastri chanted the Agama Slokas. Kumbhabishekam was performed in the presence of devotees on 15-05-1957.

History - Manumasiddhi the Telugu-Choda ruler of Nellore (historically known as Vikrama Simhapuri) was dethroned around 1250 AD by his cousins conspiring with Jala Varma Pandya. He found refuge in the Nallamala forests near Macherla for some time, when he constructed the Sri Devi Sahita Ranganadha temple in Nagarjuna Konda. The son Kommana Danda Natha "Kavi Brahma Tikkanna" could secure the help of Kakatiya monarch Ganapathi Deva to install Manumasiddhi again as the king Nellore prior to 1263 AD. 

An ancient statue of Lord Hanuman smeared in saffron. I wish people apply little on the forehead symbolically instead of covering the image from head to toe. Nature's things should be left as close as possible to Nature ..that's the Hindu way of life as I understand.

This sites main street is one my left here. You can see the road run down and gives away to a dirt path which leads straight to the reservoir. Out there in the same direction is Nagarjuna Konda island, another site of relocated monuments.

From here we move on to the other two spots of interest- Amphitheater and Hariti Temple.

May 5, 2018

Buddhist University Complex, Anupu Archaeological site

December 26, 2017
Anupu was the only destination for the day. We reached this reconstructed site around 10 AM. Had I known the site was open from 6AM, we would have planned an early morning visit ..the cool air in open land would have been refreshing. We parked our car close to the University complex entrance, in the shade of a small tree with bright yellow flowers. The site care-takers have maintained the place well. A signage describes this monument..

University Complex - This transplanted structure which was identified as university complex by excavators appears like a vihara complex of Buddhist monks with central meditation hall, a stupa and cells. The epigraphical evidence surfaced at this place suggests that this place was inhabited by learned Buddhist monks.

A paved footpath from the entrance leads to this circular Stupa on a square platform. These bricks are similar to Nagarjuna Konda monuments.

For easy understanding, here's a plan of the complex as seen in Wikimapia. I've marked the key spots with letters and indexed-
A - big Stupa
B - twin Chaitya Griha
C - toilet
D - three circular cells
E - platform with pillars
F - small Stupa

Nagarjuna Konda and Anupu are protected sites and listed as ticketed monuments in Archaeological Survey of India website. Here's a short description from ASI.. University complex (Monastries), Anupu: This reconstructed complex comprises of two large monastic establishments with provision for adequate sanitary arrangements and has been rightly identified as the famous University of Nagarjunakonda valley. One of them provide separate accommodation for female disciples and had a double chaitya griha, one for stupa and the other for Buddha’s idol while the other has four winged vihara around a central mandapa and an oblong Buddha shrine located in it. This complex has also yielded buddhapadas, gold casket containing relics and other materials.

Lets start our tour from the big Stupa. I'm guessing this must have had a roof, probably wooden. Had it been a stone roof, it would have been mentioned. Prayer wheels might have been present around the perimeter. One has to imagine a lot at this site.

Right besides the big stupa is a large enclosure consisting of twin Chaitya Griha, meditation hall, cells and a toilet. Around here, Pushpa asked why the walls are of same height. Well.. perhaps the engineers in-charge of the restoration wanted a neat looking monument. There could be other reasons such as wooden pillars and wooden roof. From here one of the Chaitya Griha is visible.

The apsidal Chaitya Griha which held Buddha's statue once upon a time. The semi-circular slab at the entrance is a nice touch, kind of welcomes visitors. The slab has floral engraving along the perimeter.. should have taken a close up shot. Note sure if this slab is referred to as moon-stone. Right behind me is the the other Chaitya Griha like a mirror image.

Stupa Chaitya Griha.. the round slab is missing here. It seems the design and plan of these structures have astronomical significance. Perhaps, a visit to a fully functional Chaitya Griha should help understand their significance.

A closer look at the Stupa. Originally this Stupa had a hemispherical top which is missing. The damaged has been covered up nicely during restoration work. If you look at the vertical part, its not flat but its curved. My friend Karun, an architect, had once remarked that Buddhist works are very detailed. On the island site, there are two Stupas in good condition.

The pillared meditation hall. The entrance has the semi-circular slab and three steps. Everything has a significance here.. symbolic or practical, there's a significance attached. few broken pillars are left leaning on the platform.. the pillar design is typical to Vijayapuri  monuments. The Neem tree in the background is a reference pint for this site, Pushpa is exploring close by there.

Three sides of this enclosure are lined with cells, probably these are residential cells which can also be used for meditation. These monks lead a simple life, hardly any personal belongings.. just few robes, bowl, bag, books, pitcher for drinking water, staff and wooden shoes. Their lives were dedicated to learning, gaining spiritual knowledge, preaching & serving mankind. Surely they would have cared for animals and plants too.

At the end of a row of cells we saw this little device with a exit hole. Marked as C in the plan. This is the only such thing in the entire site. I called Pushpa and told this was a toilet but she didn't quite agree. I can't think of it as anything else.. its placed at a corner, with a hole leading out of the enclosure ..what else can this be other than a toilet. The cell has enough space to keep large pitchers (for water) too.

A closer look at the device. Its made of dressed slabs cemented together. The engraving is interesting. In fact no where else I've seen such a thing. This can't be for washing clothes, its too small. From the looks it seems like a commode. If I'm wrong, please excuse me, no offence intended. And do dhare your thoughts.

Looking back towards the cells, the big Stupa's top can be seen from here. Buddhist monasteries were well organized. I feel they are organized even to this day, I could see that at Buddhist monasteries at Mundgod in Karnataka. The monasteries there have temples with halls, hostels for senior monks and dormitories for younger monks. I got a chance to see a hostel, a monk's room, class room with a class in progress, kitchen, administrative office and a full fledged debate. It was an enriching experience. you know they even have football matches. However, present day monks have more possessions

We are looking diagonally across the enclosure and the cell here seems bigger than the cells seen earlier. These cell walls have pillars too. Were these classrooms or cells for women monks.. possibly classrooms for students specializing at some level.

Another view of the central hall.

Just outside the enclosure are three circular cells with narrow openings  (marked as D in the plan). Were they cells meant for sick people ..quite possible because even monks can become sick  and they wouldn't want to spread the sickness. I'm just guessing. Do share your view.

This is the entrance to the second enclosure similar to the one we just saw. The entrance has a narrow passage, one person can pass through at a time.

This enclosure is decorated with different types of artistic entrance staircases (see inset too). Gives an impression this enclosure is for senior monks.

A closer look,, this seems like a tongue stretching out of a dragon's mouth. Hoysala and Vijaynagara (probably Chalukyan too) temples have similar staircases but they are heavily decorated and much bigger. Here a pair of seats flank the entrance.

The central pillared hall.

We come to the small Stupa (marked as F in the plan) which is opposite to the second central hall. This is a standard design here ..probably a spire stood at the center to pull in cosmic energy. All places of worship have spires like an antenna to receive signals from the outer space.

Also there was another long brick structure running parallel to fence and road. A simple long platform, no idea what that was for. So much effort has been put into reconstructing these monuments. Perhaps some more signage would help people like us to get a slightly deeper insight of the past.

Lastly, before we left the place I would to show a beautiful tree, very stylish creature it is.

Om Mani Padme Hum