We often take tours to Karnataka and that mostly includes the coastal side of this state but very few people know about these jewels. Let’s take a different tour to the less explored historical side of north Karnataka.
Vijaypura (city of victory), formerly known as Bijapur, is a town with a history of Adil Shahi dynasty. The town of palaces, arches, tombs, gateways all carved in a rich basalt rock….
Most popularly Bijapur is known for Gol gumbaz ( round dome ) which is the second largest tomb in the world and Malik-e-maidan ( the monarch of the plains) which is the largest medieval cannon in the world.
It is the largest medieval cannon in the world. Being 4 m long, 1,5 m in diameter and weighing 55 tons. It was given by a Turkish Officer in the service of Burhan Nizamshah and this information is engraved on it. It was placed on the Sherza Burj (Lion Gate) on a platform especially built for it. The cannon’s nozzle is fashioned into the shape of a lion’s head with open jaws & between the carved fangs is depicted an elephant being crushed to death. It is said that after igniting the cannon, the gunner would remain underwater in a tank of water on the platform to avoid the deafening explosion.
Badami, formerly known as Vatapi was a regal capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 750 AD. It is famous for its rock cut structural temples in red sandstone. And this made Badami one of the heritage cities in India.
Landmarks in Badami include cave temples, gateways, forts, inscriptions and sculptures.
Badami cave is a complex composed of four caves, all carved in a soft Badami red sandstone on a hill cliff, dated to late 6th to 7th centuries. First three caves are brahmanical and the forth is Jaina.
These cave-temples essentially consist of a rectangular pillared verandah (mukha-mandapa), a more or less square pillared hall (maha-mandapa) and a small almost square shrine-cell (garbha-griha) at its rear, all in an axial plane and entirely rock-cut, constituting the flat-roofed mandapa type of temples.
This is Shaivite cave. The important carvings in this cave are an 18-armed dancing Shiva in famous tandav style in 81 dancing poses, a two-handed Ganesha, Mahishasura Mardini, Ardha Nareeshwara & Shankarnarayana. The ceiling is adorned by a serpent motif & other carved figures
This cave is dedicated to Vishnu with one foot mastering the Earth and the other the sky. It has Vaishnavite influence with panels of Trivikrama & Bhuvaraha on west and east walls. On its front are the guards or dwarapalakas holding lotus in their hands. On the ceilings are carvings of Anantasayana, Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva &other Ashtadikpalas.
Another flight of steps takes one to the third cave which is the largest & the best of the lot. This cave has carvings pertaining to both Shaivite & Vaishnavite themes. Panels of Trivikrama, Narasimha, Shankaranarayana, Bhuvaraha, Anantasayana & Harihara are engraved in a vigorous style. An inscription found here records the creation of the shrine by Mangalesha in 578 AD. There are some fine bracket figures on the pillars of this cave indicating the best carvings.
Lying to the east of cave three, the fourth cave is Jain. There is an image of Mahavira adorning the sanctum. Other carvings here are of Padmavathi & other Thirthankaras. Scores of Jaina Thirthankara images have been engraved in the inner pillars and walls. In addition to it, there are some idols of Bahubali, Yakshas and Yakshis.
Exactly opposite to the badami caves lies Badami fort. Strategically situated on top of the hill, the fort encloses large granaries, a treasury impressive temples on top of the northern end of the hill. The entrance to the fort is right through the Badami museum. The path is laid with neatly cut stone, the same that adores all the architecture around. Malegitti Shivalaya, perhaps the oldest temple of the lot, is dedicated to the benign aspect of Shiva as the garland maker. Placed on the summit of a rocky hill, the temple is built of stone, finely joined without mortar, & with Dravidian tower.
The fort gives you amazing panoramic view of Bhuthnatha temple, agastyar tirtha lake, Badami caves and Badami city.
View of the Agastyar Tirtha Tank, Badami Town and Tipu Fort from atop the Cave Temple
Pattadakal also spelled Paṭṭadakallu is a World heritage site, well known for Chalukya monuments, situated 22 kms from Badami city. Pattadakal is a great centre of Chalukya art and architecture, noted for its temples and inscriptions. There are ten temples here, four are in Nagara (northern) style and six are in Dravidian ( southern) style. The largest of all the temples in Pattadakal is Virupaksha temple, built c.740 by queen lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband’s victory over the kings from the south. The group of 8th century monuments in Pattadakal are the culmination of the earliest experiments in the vesara style of Hindu temple architecture.
Aihoḷe has been described as a cradle of temple architecture. It is known for Chalukyan architecture, with about 125 stone temples dating from 5th century CE. Durga temple been the main attraction, the architecture of the temple is predominantly Dravida with Nagara style also is used in certain areas. The shape of the temple, in Indian traditional architecture, is known as Gajaprasta which means the resemblance to the back of an elephant.
Hampi was the capital of Vijayanagar Empire, the last great Hindu Kingdom. Under the Vijayanagar rulers Hampi grew fabulously. Hampi contains several monuments belonging to the erstwhile capital city. The Hampi ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site now.
Hampi is a place of beautiful temples, ruins of palaces, remains of aquatic structures, ancient market streets, royal pavilions, bastions, royal platforms, treasury buildings… the list is practically endless.
Vittala temple is the most extravagant architectural showpiece of Hampi. The temple was originally built in the 15th century AD. Vittala, after whom the temple is known, is a form of lord Vishnu.
The Mahamandapa of the Vittala Temple, which contains the hall of musical pillars, is a many angled structure. This stands on an ornate platform, decorated with bas reliefs of traders, animals and floral motifs.
The temple houses the famous musical pillars which produce melodious and feet tapping tunes. The solid stone columns in these pillars produce audible sound, when struck with a finger. And surprisingly, these pillars are rock solid, made out of a huge rock.
The iconic stone chariot in the vicinity of Vittala temple complex is a symbol of Karnataka tourism. This is in fact a shrine built in the form of a temple chariot. In mythology Vittala is an aspect of lord Vishnu. An image of Garuda (the eagle god) was originally enshrined within its sanctum. Garuda, according to the Hindu mythology, is the vehicle of lord Vishnu. Thus the Garuda shrine facing the temple’s sanctum is symbolic.
It may appear to you (and sometimes even referred to) as a monolithic structure. In reality this stone shrine was built with many giant granite blocks. The joints are smartly hidden in the carvings and other decorative features that adorn the Stone Chariot.
Virupaksha is the oldest and principle temple in Hampi. It believed that this temple has been functioning uninterruptedly ever since its inception in the 7th century AD.That makes this one of the oldest functioning temples in India.
About a kilometer long, Hampi bazaar, also known as Virupaksha Bazaar, is a street located in front of the Virupaksha temple. Both sides of the street are lined with a series of old pavilions, some of them are two storied. These structures were once part of a thriving market and residence of the nobles.
The Hampi Bazaar was once the centre of flourishing trade. The bazar contains the images of foreigners like Persians selling horses. It was also a huge market for diamonds and you can see carvings of Chinese and Arab people who came here for trading.
This image of Lakshmi-Narasimha, popularly called Ugranarasimha, meaning Narasimha of terrifying countenance, is hewn out of a rock in-situ. This gigantic image, 6.7 meters in height, with an articulately well-defined and well delineated mane and large bulging eyes and broad chest still retains its awesome charm. Originally, the icon bore a smaller image of Lakshmi sitting on his lap which is destroyed now. Now Narsimha is seated on the coils of the snake Adisesha, who rises behind him with seven hoods, which serve as a canopy.
Pushkaranis are sacred tanks attached to temples. Most of the large temples in Hampi has a tank attached to it. Though it is not associated with any temple, the most popular is the so called Stepped Tank located inside the Royal Enclosure. The small but neat tank is about 22 square meters and about 7 meters deep. It has five distinct tiers, each fitted with steps set in a pleasing pattern. The mason marks on the individual blocks indicating the direction, the row and the location of the steps reveal that the layout of this stepped tank was well thought out in advance.
No matter if you are a history lover or not, this charismatic triangle is a must visit for all of you. As almost all places are listed UNESCO world heritage sites, they have been developed and maintained in amazing way.
Before visiting any other miracles out of India, let’s explore some astounding creatures of our nation.