Hampi Hopping, Sacred Center: Hemakuta Hill

Hemakuta Hill is a large expanse of exposed bedrock that rises southwards from the base of Virupaksha Temple, crests and then descends towards the Krishna Temple which lies to the south of the hill. On the hill, as in the Virupaksha complex, are situated a few temples and shrines that predate the founding of Vijaynagar. Other temples on the hill are from the 14th c AD, i.e. from the earliest phase of Vijaynagar construction. All these structures are relatively small compared to many of the religious projects of subsequent Vijaynagar periods.

If we keep in mind that at that early time (14th c AD) the large Virupaksha Temple complex did not exist in the way it does now, in the sense that it did not have the large gopurams, walled courtyards and mandapas, and instead consisted of small shrines (some possibly from as far back as the 10th c AD) like the ones next to Manmatha Tank, we get the picture of an area extending from the banks of the Tungabhadra River till the crest of Hemakuta Hill, dotted with small pre-Vijaynagar temples, and the earliest Vijaynagar temples built on a similar scale next to them. This was possibly the first agglomeration of temples in the Sacred Center.

This also indicates that at the beginning of the Vijaynagar era, the temples being constructed were at a relatively small scale, in line with local temple-building traditions following the Later Chalukyan and Western Ganga periods . It is only when the Vijaynagar Empire grew in power and annexed Tamil lands in the 15th c AD that their temples started to follow the styles of Tamil architecture, with their much grander and more cohesive temple complexes, enclosed by walls and accessed through tall gopurams. The Hazara Rama temple from the first half of the 15th c AD can be considered as transitional, and the early 16th c AD Krishna Temple as a more complete acceptance of this Tamil influence. The Vitthala Temple and the mahamandap of the Virupaksha Temple, also built in the prolific early 16th c, can be considered as contributing to and taking the Tamil style forward.

Coming back to the Hemakuta Hill for now, here are some images of its temples:

Temples on the exposed bedrock

hemakuta 01 01hemakuta 01 02

Potentially pre-Vijaynagar temples with three shrines accessed from a single ardhmandap

hemakuta 01 03hemakuta 01 04hemakuta 01 05hemakuta 01 06hemakuta 01 07hemakuta 01 08

View of the temples, shrines and gateways

hemakuta 02 01hemakuta 02 02

These well-proportioned though boxy temples resemble Hoysala examples stripped of their profuse sculpture work

hemakuta 02 03hemakuta 02 04

Hemakuta Hill temples and gateways with the Virupaksha gopuram in the background

hemakuta 02 05hemakuta 02 06hemakuta 02 07hemakuta 02 08hemakuta 02 09hemakuta 02 10hemakuta 02 11hemakuta 02 12hemakuta 03 01

Higher up on Hemakuta Hill

hemakuta 03 02hemakuta 03 03hemakuta 03 04hemakuta 03 05hemakuta 03 06hemakuta 03 07hemakuta 03 08hemakuta 03 09

Gateway at the crest of the hill

hemakuta 04 01hemakuta 04 02

Fortifications along the crest of the hill

hemakuta 04 03hemakuta 04 04

Gateways on another side of Hemakuta Hill leading to Hampi Bazaar

hemakuta 04 05hemakuta 04 06

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s