June 27, 2017

0089, 3100 INDIA (Karnataka) - Group of Monuments at Hampi (UNESCO WHS)

3100 Lotus Mahal at the Zenana Enclosure in Hampi

Posted on 02.01.2012, 27.06.2017
"…as large as Rome and very beautiful to the sight. There are many canals that bring water right into Vijayanagara, and in places there are lakes. The palace of the king, which is larger than the castle at Lisbon, is close to a palm grove and other richly bearing fruit trees. Below the Moorish quarter there is river… and along its banks fruit trees growing so closely together that they look like a thick forest", wrote the Portuguese traveller Domingo Paes around 1520, when he visited Vijayanagara (City of Victory), the capital of the empire with the same name, the last bastion of Hinduism in India.

0089 Elephant Stables in Hapi

The empire has reached its peak during the reign of Krishnadevaraya (1509-1529), when were erected the impressive temples and elephant stables still standing today at the village of Hampi. Even if they don't agree as to the origin of the empire, historians agree the founders were inspired by Vidyaranya, a saint at the Sringeri monastery to fight the Muslim invasion. After more then 200 years, the killing of emperor Aliya Rama Raya in 1565 at the battle of Talikota, against an alliance of the Deccan sultanates, mark the end of the city. The Sultanate's army plundered Vijayanagara and reduced it to the ruins; it was never re-occupied.

Spread over almost 30 square kilometers on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, the ruins of Vijayanagara are divided into two main areas: the sacred centre, around Hampi bazaar, and the Royal Centre, to the south around Kamalpuram. Hampi has various notable Hindu temples with some vedanta theology inside the temples, some of which are still active places of worship. There are many bastions and gateways which show that seven fortified lines originally surrounded the city. The civil buildings contain the Zanana enclosure, the Lotus Mahal, the museum at Kamalapura, and the aqueducts and canals.

Part of the Zenana enclosure, the Lotus Mahal was used by the Vijayanagara kings for holding discussions with scientists, artists and scholars, and by the royal ladies to relax and socialize. It is a two-storied building, well-structured symmetrically, surrounded by a rectangular wall and four towers of pyramidal shape giving a lotus-like structure visual. Its curves are given an Islamic touch while the multi-layered roof design is moreover related to Indo style of buildings. It is one of only a handful few building in Hampi that had not been destroyed amid the attack on the city.

On the plaque on the spot, placed near the building shown in the postcard 0089, it's written the following: "This magnificent 15th century, domed and long rectangular structure, built in the Indo-Islamic style of architecture, is considered to be the stable for the State Elephants. Facing West, it has eleven large domed chambers interconnected with large arched openings. There are shallow niches and doorways in the walls between the arches. The remnants of a structure near the central dome suggest a pillared pavilion on top. The domes are of various types, such as, circular, octogonal, ribbed and fluted in design, and are symmetrically laid out. There are remnants of ornate stucco and plaster ornamentation, on both the exterior and interior, which was part of the architecture and design of the building. There is access to the roof from a concealed staircase, through a niche by the side of the central chamber."

As the sender say, "the elephants were tied to the chairs hanging from the centre of the ceiling as can be made out from the iron hooks embedded in some of the ceilings. These were not the military elephants but were the ceremonial ones which were used by royal household". There are historians who argue that the elephant stables were a mosque, Hindu craftsmen adapting their temple-building traditions to the needs of Islam. Some support for this idea comes from the mosque built later at Bijapur, because the stables’ seven circular vaults could well be the prototypes of this mosque’s unusual array of domes.

About the stamps
On the postcard 0089
The first stamp is part of the commemorative series Indian Railway Stations, issued on August 16, 2009, and containing 4 stamps with the same value, 5.00 INR:
• Howrah Station - It's on the postcard 0089
• Mumbai CST Station
• Old Delhi Station
• Chennai Central Station

The last two stamps are part of the definitive series Builders of Modern India, about which I wrote here.

On the postcard 3100
The first stamp is one of the four of the series FIFA Football World Cup - Brazil, designed by Kamleshwar Singh and issued on June 12, 2014. The second is part of the definitive series Builders of Modern India, about which I wrote here.

The last stamp, Tata Steel - 100th Anniversary, was issued on April 22, 2008. Tata Steel Limited is an Indian multinational steel-making company, one of the top steel producing companies globally, and the second largest steel company in India.

Hampi - Wikipedia
Group of Monuments at Hampi - UNESCO official website
Hampi: The former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire - Vintage News
Asia: A Concise History - Arthur Cotterell
Lotus Mahal in Hampi - Of Grandeur and History - Karnataka.com
Elephant Stable, Hampi - Karnataka.com

Sender 0089: Akhil Kumar (walltype)
Sent from Bangalore (Karnataka / India), on 21.11.2011
Sender 3100: Mansoor B. (direct swap)
Sent from Bolar, Mangalore (Karnataka / India), on 05.06.2017 

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