The street of the Virupaksha Temple was a lively commercial centre until conservationists shut down the stalls. Was it a good decision?
Not long ago, the street of the walled Virupaksha Temple buzzed with stalls and livestock. Megalithic 15th-century arcades called mandapas flanked the 720-metre-long avenue where local people ran trade off tourists. They called it the ‘bazaar’.
The bazaar starts by the towering temple in the city of Hampi: the last capital of the Kingdom of Vijayanagar. It was among the greatest and wealthiest of the Hindu empires and ruled the entire south India at its height. The empire identified Hampi, in the southern state of Karnataka, as an ideal location for a capital city. Between the 14th and 16th centuries its rich princes erected remarkable Dravidian temples and palaces here.
The constructions were majestic. The city attracted visitors from far and wide including Arabs, Portuguese and Italians. The dominating building of the complex was – and still is – a nine-storey tower made of bricks and mortar. The idyll ended in 1565 when the Deccan Muslim confederacy conquered the city. It was plundered for six months, damaged and then abandoned. Only in the 19th century was it rediscovered and restored. Continue Reading…