Rummaging through my bag, in which, I should tell you, are lots of papers, I started going through what I had written on those. Songs lists of concerts, notes taken down during lec-dems, lyrics of songs, thoughts which I wanted to later become blog posts and even full posts which I never got around to typing on the computer and publishing. There are a whole lot of writings which didn’t become posts in this blog at the time it should have! Anyway, here is a very belated post on a photography exhibition with inputs from what I had written on one of those papers right after coming back from the exhibition.
A few months back, or to be precise, from 23rd March to 4th April, there was a photography exhibition titled ‘Vijayanagara – Splendour in Ruins’ at Lalit Kala Akademi organized by Alkazi Foundation in association with Prakriti Foundation. It was an exhibition of rare photos of Hampi taken in 1855-1856 by Alexander Greenlaw, an army officer.
With Hampi being a place I have been dreaming of visiting for quite a few years now, I didn’t want to miss this exhibition. So, on the first available free time, which was only on the last day of the exhibition, I went to Lalit Kala Akademi at exactly an hour and half before its closing time and I left the place only some 10 minutes before the closing time!
Reaching the room where the exhibition was on, I paused to take in the surroundings, since this was the first I was visiting this place. The room was air-conditioned and well-lit and framed black and white photos were placed neatly on the white-coloured walls. There were printed mini-write-ups near each photo, describing the place on the photo with a dash of history too added to it. Apart from me, there was just one person there. It was only after sometime that a watchman and some more people came. The entire place was filled with silence. With no distractions whatsoever, I started seeing the photos one by one and reading the write-ups near each.
There must have been about a hundred photos in all. Apart from the photographs taken by Alexander Greenlaw, there were some photos taken by Edmund David Lyon and Nicholas & Co., also in the 19th century. There were also some photos taken by Madhu Gopal Rao. Those were recent photos of the same places taken by Greenlaw and showed the places from the same perspective as shown by Greenlaw. Madhu Gopal Rao’s colour photos were placed right next to Greenlaw’s and it showed the effect of time on the architectural marvels. Some structures that were there in Greenlaw’s photos are now missing.
Alkazi Foundation has released a book titled ‘Vijayanagara – Splendour in Ruins’. The book has all these photographs and more. The book with a few of its pages open and some painting were kept inside a glass-case. A painting showed the Jain temple, Ganigatti in Greek architectural style, which is not how it is.
The photos were all excellent, especially when you consider the fact that those were taken more than a century ago! The writings were informative and that resulted in the exhibition offering more than just an opportunity to admire the photos and the architectural beauty of the ruins of Hampi captured in those. Starting from how Hampi got its name from the river Pampa and the fact that it is believed to be the Kishkinda of Ramayana and the people of Hampi considered Rama as their King, to some architectural details like some of the structures at Hampi being a blend of Sultanate & Deccan architectural styles (Elephant stable is an example of that), there were lots of info covered on the writings.
At the end of a little more than an hour, I felt as though I had been on a virtual tour of Hampi! Kudos to Alkazi Foundation for preserving rare photos like these and for this well-organized exhibition!
Some of the photos that were there in the exhibition are of the:
- Talarigatta Gate
- Vittala temple including photos of its south-east gopura, Chariot and Mandapa
- Pattabhirama Temple
- Virupaksha Temple – This was an important temple since the initial Vijayanagara kings were all followers of Shiva. The later Vijayanagara kings became worshippers of Vishnu
- Sacred Centre
- Royal Centre
- Sister Rocks
- Krishna Temple – This was built after Krishnadevaraya ‘s victory over Orissa
- Hemakoota – This temple is a pre-Vijayanagara temple. It has step by step gopura
- Malyavanta Hill
- Ganesha Temple
- Mahanavami dibba
- Rath during festival with kalash etc.
- Bhima gateway & sculpture of Bhima with his gadha & a flower in his hands
- Veera Hanuman
- Jain temple, Ganigatti with its deepa stamba
- Elephant stables – There are totally 12 stables.
- Queen’s bath
- Octagonal watch tower
- Hazare Rama temple – This temple is full of sculptures depicting Ramayana. Sculptures of Hanuman & monkey troupes, Parasurama giving His bow to Rama & Rama breaking it, welcoming dancers etc., a deer-faced sage, Dasharata & others coming to Mithila.
- Zenanah enclosure – Queen’s harem
- King’s balance
- River Tungabhadra
- Nandi in the middle of the river
- Kamal/Lotus Mahal
- Step-tank full of water
- Broken Vijayanagara bridge
- parisal on the river
- A zoomed in shot of Cactus
- Submerged mandapa, attributed later to Purandaradasa