PART III: THE STATIC WHEEL OF STORIES
The Deccan Sultanates left the city barren, destroying the richness and spirit with their terror and power. The black turbans did not only steal the beauty but the settlement and holiness which took centuries to form. Alas, the Empire fell down into pieces and the monopolies of the invaders left the city as the ghost city.
For centuries, it remained as a neglected place. Kings lost, capital fallen , population fled, until it was him who was crowned in 1509 during its gloomiest period. Already declared as ‘Vijayanagara’ empire on the day of his coronation (same as the birthday of Hindu God Lord Krishna), Krishnadevaraya triumphed as the dominant ruler of the peninsula of India.
Not only he was an able administrator and a great warrior but he was also a scholar, a poet, a musician, and a kind king. Being the architect of the city, he started restoring the divine ‘Hindu-istic’ essence of his kingdom.
One such extravaganza residing Vittala, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu into its heart, Sri Vijay Vittala temple (a twin to Virupaksha complex) was built to demonstrate excellent structures and unmatched craftsmanship. Facing the sun, the temple is in the center of a quadrangle with three Gopuras. The vast complex can be divided into three parts namely the outer mukhmandapa, the central rangamandapa, and the interior sukhnasi and garbhagriha.
At the entrance of the main sanctum, I greet you with my ‘chariot’ shaped body engraved with battle scenes and elephants with hind legs at the base. I was born out of smart construction, looking like a monolith but built with granite slabs hidden within artistic designs. However, this was not intended as a chariot but I thought to make my own identity housing an image of Garuda, the eagle and vahana of Vishnu. Also, I would like to tell you that my body which you observe now isn’t complete. They did shave my head leaving it bare and flat. You know when I was young, I used to walk around the temple complex and reposition myself once in a blue moon. It was a source of fascination for me as well as the mortals who halt when I moved. But my heart, my idol, which did make me paralyzed till now, was stolen by the British and they might have it somewhere with them.
I use to always think that Krishnadevaraya hired a musician to play instrumental music and sooth the temple complex every morning and evening. When I repositioned myself, I searched around for the amazing musician. To my surprise, it was my mate’s hands and not any mortals’ music piece. The 56 hands of Rangamandapa, also known as SAREGAMA pillars, use to emanate the musical notes when tapped gently. Unlike me, they were carved out of single stone emitting different musical notes representing different instruments.
After asking Ranga’s secret of his musical harmony, he told it’s what comes from his spirit and helps him to relax. But his two hands were cut, to which he told that the British wanted to discover the secret behind the musical pillars. In order to satisfy their curiosity and unravel the mystery behind, they cut two of his hands to check whether anything existed inside those stone hands. However, they found nothing.
Apart from these tangible specimens, the city boasts of a vibrant intangible heritage of crafts, traditions, rituals, festivals, mythology, science, beliefs and faiths. From the Pampa to Kiskindha to Vijayanagara to ruined, the city offers you to find your corner, because the truth is you scratch any surface, it all comes down to the same thing. STORIES.
We as structure are like an open museum – you just have to explore throughout at your own pace and discover our stories. And we can surprise you with not only our tales of glory but ruins. All these stories are carved safely inside us forever- the wars, weddings, massacres, triumphs, defeats and the PAST.