From the mid-fourteenth century to 1565, Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, a powerful military state and an influential Hindu kingdom that ruled much of the southern half of the Indian subcontinent at its peak between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. Vijayanagara, on the Deccan Plateau along the Tungabhadra River, was also known as the “City of Victory.” medieval traveler Abdur Razzak remarked that the city “is such that the pupil of the eye has never seen such a place like it, and the year of intelligence has never been informed that there existed anything to equal it in the world.” Remnants of monuments, public bazaars, and the palace are marvelous souvenirs left over from the great medieval Hindu city. Three Hindu dynasties ruled Vijayanagara through two centuries of Muslim-ruled India. The Krishna Temple, built in 1531 by King Krishnadevaraya of the Tuluva dynasty, contains lofty gopurams (grand entry portals) that lead to shrines and structures for the worship of the idol Balakrishna. Two concentric walls enclose the structure with granite colonnades, and stone carving, stucco detailing, and towering shikhars (ciphers) define the monument.
How We Helped
In 2005, WMF partnered with the Jindal South West Foundation to create a conservation master plan. In 2006, site surveys and conservation condition reports were completed. In addition to a thorough assessment of existing conditions, site planning guidelines for visitor management were reviewed. From this plan, the main east gopuram was chosen to be conserved and stabilized. In 2007 and 2008, WMF focused its attention, in collaboration with the Hampi Foundation, the Archaeological Survey of India, and the National Culture Fund, on a pilot plan for the conservation and stabilization of the east gopuram. As part of this plan, structural and geo-technical surveys and a material analysis will be conducted. Damaged stucco bas-relief ornamentation and brickwork on the upper sections of the gopuram will also be repaired. A detailed assessment report will be prepared providing cost estimates and in-depth tactics on conserving these parts of the monument. This project is expected to take two years to complete.
Why It Matters
The Krishna Temple is part of a group of monuments in Hampi that were inscribed on the World Heritage list in 1986. In 1999, it was placed on the World Heritage in Danger list because of insufficient maintenance and infringement from nearby development. Hampi carries both historical and sacred significance documented in inscriptions and storytelling over centuries. The remnants of the site are a testament to existence of the extinct civilization of the great Vijayanagara Empire. Temples and palaces built by princes and kings in the Dravidian style of architecture were marveled at by travelers from the Middle East and Europe during the empire’s peak. Under the rule of King Krishnadevaraya, Vijayanagara experienced an extraordinary revival of Hindu religion, art, and architecture before its extinction following the onslaught of invading Muslim armies.