|Rocks must be loved. They
are gods, dancers, elephants, horses Waiting for deliverance. Rock Space Rock and inner
Hampi, the 14th century capital city of
the Vijayanagara empire lies in the Deccan heartland, in the state of Karnataka. The ruins
spread over an area the more than 26 sq.kms. protected by the tempestuous river
Tungabhadra in the north and by rocky granite ridges n the other three sides. A terrain
such as this was excellent for a capital city that needed to be vigilant. It may not have
been military shrewdness alone that made the god-conscious Vijayanagara kings settle for
this fierce landscape and build on it one of the great imperial cities of medieval times.
The area had older, legendary significance as well. It was believed to have been the site
of the monkey kingdom of Kishkindha associated with the Hindu epic, the Ramayana and the
presence of a large number of monkeys, still considered sacred, seems to testify to that.
The city is said to have been founded
in 1336 by two brothers Harihara (also called Hukka) and Bukka. They were officers of the
Hoysalas. Taking advantage of the declining fortunes of the Hoysalas who were attacked by
the army of the Delhi Sultans, they tried to create some political order on the banks of
the Tungabhadra. They were soon able to set up an independent kingdom. The Vijayanagara
empire grew in strength and splendour and resisted all onslaughts till 1565 when the then
Vijayanagara commander Rama Raya was defeated by a confederation of Muslim kings and the
capital city was ransacked.
The broken kingdom came under Mughal
rule in 1689 and was later annexed by the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1780.
The heartbreak of the 1565 defeat can
still be seen in the ruins of the imperial city. Workmen seem to have fled, abandoning
their tools by the side of the river.
There is, in fact so much to discover
in Hampi that even a fortnight's viewing may not be enough. But even the traveller in a
hurry must find time for a few of Hampi's monuments, if only a few. Hampi is an excursion
back into time; it is also an exploration of an artist's lover for his land and the
unabashed expression of such lover.
The historical town and fortress of
Anegundi once formed the northern outpost of the Vijayanagara empire. Its ruins which now
lie scattered along the north bank of the Tungabhadra River just opposite Hampi, include
civil buildings, temples, may lines of fortifications and gateways that seem to be
entrances to fantasy land.