Tag Archives: Vijayanagar


Vijayanagar – what a place


The musical stone pillars at Vijayanagar

THIS PICTURE shows a temple in Hampi – Vijayanagar – with stone pillars that can be played like a musical instrument.

No one knows how this is done. It is a real phenomenon. Although the pillars are now closed off to the public, at the Virupaksha Temple there are also two musical stone pillars and I have personally struck one and heard the very clear sound. In the same temple, there is a camera obscura too.

In times of yore, the pillars in the picture were played by musicians at the temple with their sound resonating through the valley where the mandir is. Vijayanagar was one of the wonders that was in India, and there is a great deal of comment from Western observers about just how powerful and wonderful it was, in its day. ♥

A sadhu from Hampi



Monty tells of strange Indian tales

I’M REALLY enjoying reading Monty’s  (Paul Munford) Indian Outlook.

I worked with Monty years back at Castle Despair, or VNU UK as it then described herself.  Monty is on a sabbatical in India for a year, and he’s up to issue number 34 right now.

The latest newsletter says that the Indian government has asked ISPs to ban a web site called http://www.Savitabhabi.com. This is an adult cartoon site, but it’s very mild by our standards, says Monty.

People who want to defend web content have set up a site called www.savesavita.com. The paradox is that India in the 21st century has rather a puritanical streak. This is despite the fact that India is the land of tantra and the Kama Sutra, and the Sanskrit language and a great deal of its literature is sensuous and even erotic.

Places like Khajuraho and Hampi (Vijayanagar) are full of carvings and statues that express the joy of sexuality and love. But now,  the ra-ra girls in 20/20 cricket matches are shown only for seconds, in case they excite viewers too much.

This picture is from Khajuraho. Some of the carvings have been defaced.


You can subscribe to Monty’s Indian Outlook by sending an email here. I’ve tried to contribute to understanding Indian culture on this web site.

The bonfire of the vanities


DO A GOOGLE SEARCH on the Bonfire of the Vanities and you’ll get Tom Wolfe’s book – but of course there is more to the Bonfire of the Vanities than meets the eye.

machThe picture above is of the cathedral in Florence, the city’s symbol is the Fleur de Lys, that is to say prosperity in a way, but the real Bonfire of the Vanities concerned the egregious monk, Savonarola. It was he who urged the Florentines to throw on a real bonfire all those fripperies people love so much. It is said that Botticelli threw some of his paintings into the real bonfire because he regretted them. As the painter of Primavera,  and Mars and Venus, this is much to be regretted.

Savonarola attempted to redefine Florentine life, and these days it is very hard to get a beer in Florence. Ice creams, however, are easy. Savonarola found himself burning in flames in Florence. There are very many high towers there, it has to be said. Plus Machiavelli and Dante stalked the streets, with the former writing a very short piece about princedom in the Renaissance, and surviving, while the latter just couldn’t get over Beatrice.

Today, Florence is a favourite place for tourists to visit. And up high you can walk down past the home of Galileo Galilei, the poor guy who tried to explain to the Vatican that Rome wasn’t the centre of the universe. In the 15th century the centre of the universe was Hampi (Vijayanagar), bigger than Rome then,  and with an army of one million. Ah, civilisation!  Below is pictured a sunset over Florence.


The palace of the lotuses is fit for a queen

THE PIC OF TODAY (above) is a detail of the palace of the lotuses in the ancient kingdom of Vijayanagar at Hampi, built by a king for his queen.  Wordpress’ flexibility in changing the “custom header” at the top is not great yet, unless you are a CSSer, but there’s an answer, although obviously it necessitates this separate bog entry.

Here’s the picture of the palace of the lotuses, built in such a way that the breezes keep the queen cool while no doubt the sound of the birds make the bower even more pleasant. Goodness knows what the workers had to do to build such an edifice.
The palace of the lotuses

The king must have been quite rich, and indeed it is said that Vijayanagar in the 15th century was bigger than Rome. So we guess that’s why he also had this stable of his elephants close to one or other of the palaces and 3,500 temples in a 64 acre space. How many priests and artisans must have been employed? Also, was the Shaivite Virupaksha temple left to stand to keep the locals, if not happy, at least with some religious place they could go to? Alas, like every empire, Vijayanagar is a goner.

The King\'s Elephant Stable