Royal Enclosure Historic Site, Karnataka, India

While it can be accessed by a 2km foot trail from the Achyutaraya Temple, the Royal Centre is best reached via the Hampi–Kamalapuram road. A number of Hampi’s major sites stand here.

The Mahanavami-diiba is a 12m-high three-tired platform with intricate carvings and panoramic vistas of the walled complex of ruined temples, stepped tanks and the King’s audience hall. The platform was used as Royal viewing area for the Dasara festivities, religious ceremonies and processions.

There’s also the Hazarama Temple, with exquistive carvings that depict scenes from the Ramayana, and polished black granite pillars.

Northeast from here within the walled ladies’ quarters is the Zenana Enclosure. Its peaceful grounds and lush lawns feel like an oasis amid the arid surrounds. Here is the Lotus Mahal, a delicately designed pavilion which was supposedly the queen’s recreational mansion. It overlooks the 11 grand Elephant Stables with arched entrances and domed chambers. There’s also a small museum and army barracks within the high-walled enclosure. Further south, you’ll find various temples and elaborate waterworks, including the Queen’s Bath, deceptively plain on the outside but amazing within, with its Indo-Islamic architecture.

Other interesting stop offs along the road to the Virupaksha Temple is the 6.7m monolithic statue of the bulging-eyed Lakshimi Narasmiha in a cross-legged yoga position and topped by a hood of seven snakes. Nearby is the Krishna Temple built in 1513, which is fronted by a D-cupped apsara and 10 incarnations of Vishnu.

Visit India Epic India Route © Monika Newbound

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