Hampi, the 14th century capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire les in the Deccan heartland, in the state of Karnataka. Hampi is situated at 74 kms from the city bellary and 13 km from hospet city in Karnataka. The ruins of Vijaynagar Empire in and around the village of Hampi are spread over an area of more than 26 sq kms. They are one of the most fascinating historical sites in Southern India.
The area of Hampi is protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and by rocky granite stones on other three sides. There is a magical quality to the ruins of Hampi even 650 years after the empire of Krishnadev Raya disintegrated.
Hampi is famous for its ruins belonging to the erstwhile medidval Hindu Kingdom of Vijaynagar and it is declared a world heritage site. The monolithic sculptures and monuments along the temples are attractive because of their excellent workmanship. The architecture found at Hampi reflects the Hindu culture and splendour of the Vijaynagar Empire. The rugged landscape adds to the historic ambience of this site.
Places of interest in Hampi are Virupaksha temple with its 50m high gopuram, Hemakunta Hill With ruins of Jaintemples and a monolithic sculpture of Narasimha, Vitthala temple, sule bazar, achutaraya temple, purandaradasa mandapa, royal center that has lotus mahal, the queen’s bath and elephant stables etc.
Vitthala Temple : The Vitthala temple, which is also known as the most splendid monument of Hampi is situated on the Southern bank of the Tungabhadra river. It is a world heritage monument dating back to the 15th century and is known for its extensive sculptured work, ornate pillars ant the carvings that decorate them.
Virupaksha Temple : The Virupaksha or the Pampapathi temple is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi. This temple is in ruins but is still in worship and is dedicated to Lord Shiva, known here as Virupaksha or Pampapati, as his wife pampa is associated with Tungabhadra river – daughter of Lord Brahma. It is situated in picturesque surroundings on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra river to the north of Hemkuta hill.
Located in the midst of the ocean, just 400 meters from Kanyakumari, is the magnificent Vivekanand Rock Memorial. This colossal structure was built in the year 1970, under the guidance of Shri Eknath Ranade. The Vivekanand rock temple is dedicated to one of the greatest spiritual philosophers of India, swami vivekanan. It is said that swami Vivekananda meditated here before setting out one of the most crucial religious campaigns in India in 1892. The idea of building Vivekananda memorial rock temple was conceptualized on his birthday centenary in the year 1962.
Vivekananda rock memorial was built with a blend of traditional and contemporary architectural style of India. A life size status of swami Vivekananda has been set up inside the memorial. The rock has always been considered as holy and according to hindu mythology, goddess devi kumara has blessed the rock with the touch of her sacred feet. It is thus known as sripada parai. In fact, there is a projection on the rock that resembles a human foot and is brownish in color, which is regarded as sri padam.
The memorial has two main structures known as the shripada mandapam and the Vivekananda mandapam. The shripada mandapam has the main sanctum sanctorum surrounded by an outer platform. The Vivekananda mandapam has a meditation hall known as dhyana mandapam. Visitors can sit, relax and meditate over here. The atmosphere here is very calm and serene. The statue of swami Vivekananda can be seen here.
The Junagarh fort is one of the most impressive fort complexes located in Bikaner in India. Junagarh fort was built by Raja Rai Singh in 1588 AD. It is one of those few forts that are not built on a hilltop. The fort complex consists of palaces, courtyards, pavilions and balconies. The walls palaces etc. are ornamented with carved stones, marbles, paintings and inlaid semi-precious stones. Each palace in the Junagarh fort complex was built by a different ruler over the centuries.
One of the most impressive structures in the Junagarh fort complex is the Anup Mahal. Its elaborately decorated walls are covered in red and gold with coloured glass inlay. The Anup Mahal is a multi storied palace and was the governance chambers for the rulers. Its beautifully decorated rooms display the valuables of the royal family. In the Badal Mahal or the clouds palace, white plaster pillars are decorated in delicate patterns and covered with gold leaves. The Badal Mahal or Cloud Palace’s walls are painted with a fresco of rain clouds. In the rain fresco photograph there is a painting of Krishna of Radha surrounded by the blue cloud motifs.
Junagarh fort is surrounded by high walls and deep moats. There are 37 bastions that guard the fort and the fort is accessible through two gates. The Suraj Pol or the Sun gate is the main entrance to the Junagarh fort. It is interesting to nate that the Junagarh fort remained almost unconquered throughout its history. Inside the Junagarh fort, there 37 palaces, temples and pavilions. All these structures are marvels in red sandstone. The palaces inside the fort have elegantly carved windows, balconies, towers and kiosks. The mirrors, paintings and carved marble panels in the Moon palace are worth having a look. Another fascinating palace inside the fort, the Phool Mahal or Flower palace was decorated with glasses and mirror. Other interesting places to watch in the Junagarh fort are the Ganga Niwas, Dungar Niwas, Vijay Mahal and Rang Mahal.
Qutub Shahi Tombs are located in the heart of Hyderabad city. The Qutub Shahi Tombs are quite close to the Golconda Fort, which is a famous landmark of Hyderabad. Tombs are a perfect blend of Indian and Persian architectural forms, constructed in gray granite decorated with exquisite ornamentation. The tombs aredomed structures, which are built on an elevated square base surrounded by pointed arches. Each tomb is quardrangular and rises to a height of 9-15 meters above the terrace. The smaller tombs are single storied while the larger ones are double storied. The domes were originally covered with blue and green tiles, of which only a few pieces remain now.
The tombs were once furnished with carpets, chandeliers and velvet canopies on silver poles. The Quran or the holy book of the Muslims, were kept on supports and readers recited verses from the sacred book at regular intervals. Golden spires were fixed over the tombs of the sultans to distinguish their tombs from those of the other members of the noble family.
This magnificent tomb is one of the largest monuments in Hyderabad reaching upto a height of 42 meters with a large dome adorning the top. The architect has prudently designed it on a double terrace, elevating it to a height of 6 meters from the ground level of the terrace. These mausoleums of the Golconda Sultans are truly splendid monuments that have stood the trial of time and braved the natural elements. During the Qutub Shahi period, these tombs were held at such high esteem that criminals who took refuge there are uncared for. Later, Sir salar jung III ordered their renovation and refurbishment in the early 19th century.
These monuments are a work of splendid beauty and artistry. The numerous tombs of the members of the royal family, laid beautifully on the sprawling gardens are worth the visit. Not only are they architecturally impressive, they also make a good picnic spot. Another attraction of thes tombs is that every year the tate government authorities conduct a deccan festival, which is exclusive to the city of Hyderabad with these tombs as the backdrop as they speak volumes about the history of the city of Hyderabad. One can spot a many renowned artists showcasing their talents in various fields like dance, music and theatre.
Lothal is around 80 kms. From Ahmedabad, Gujarat. The unique lockgated dockyard is perhaps the greatest of maritime architecture from the ancient world, and to the Sabarmati river just before its meeting with the sea in gulf of Cambay.
The citadel is obviously separated on acropolis, with its own paved baths, and lower town, more humble residential quarters, copper smithing workshops, sheds and bead factories. The whole exhibits an exhibits an excellent system of sanitary drainage. Lothal is undoubtedly one of the most important sites of the Harappan civilization. Located in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Lothal holds its own in terms of its tourist appeal amidst scores of other fort and monuments in Gujarat. Harappan ruins in lothal are what generates an indomitable interests and curiosity among both the history buffs and the casual tourists.
Lothal is a city that is neayby 4500 years old. Stumbled upon by the archaeologists in the second half of the 20th century, lothal enjoyed immense importance as a port town during the Harappan era. The Harappan ruins, Lothal have led the archaeologists and historians catagorize the Harappan culture into two distinct phases. The remains that can be traced back to the period between 2440 and 1900 BC are an indicator to a flourishing Harappan culture. However, the relics dating back to the 1900 to 1600 BC are representative of a declining culture.
Lothal’s Harappan ruins are by far the most important and significant tourist attractions of the place. One can take a stroll round the ancient dockyard, the bastion, the lower town, the bead factory and the storage houses. The advanced and modernized drainage system is something to marvel at. There is a museum right to the west that show case a number of articles comprising bronze and copper mirrors, painted potteries, miniature bullock carts used as toy items, jewellery, beads and a variety of objects made of stone, shell and bone. Another interesting item on display is a model of the city made of plaster of paris based on reconstructions made by archaeologists.