Vijaya Nagara, meaning the city of victory was the capital city of the historic Vijayanagara Empire which extended over South India. The city's ruins, surrounding the modern-day village of Hampi, are in Ballari district, Karnataka. Around 1500, Vijaynagara had about 500,000 inhabitants (supporting 0.1% of the global population during 1440-1540), making it the second largest city in the world after Beijing and almost twice the size of Paris.The ruins are now a World Heritage Site.
Lotus Mahal, also known as Kamal Mahal or Chitrangini Mahal is situated in the Zenana Enclosure of the monuments. It is a ticketed monument and a single ticket would let you into the Zenana Enclosure covering several monuments including Elephant Stables. The term Zenana refers to the Women and Zenana Enclosure in general would refer to the Queens’ enclosure along with the servants’ quarters around and private temples.
Lotus Mahal is a two storied very symmetric structure exhibiting a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture. The base of the structure depicts a Hindu foundation of stone just like in the temples, typical of Vijayanagara Architecture while the upper superstructure is Islamic in architecture with pyramidal towers instead of regular dome shapes, giving it a Lotus-like look, originating in the name. Also, this is one of the very few buildings that have the plaster intact though it is defaced at several places due to wear and tear, especially; the dampness on the walls is very visible. The exemplary carvings on the pillar arches including those of birds and delicate art work can be very mesmerizing, especially with the Makara Torana on top of these arches that can still be seen on some of them.
It is also believed that the Mahal or Palace was air-cooled and maintained its temperature during summer. The proof of this can be seen in the pipeline work above and between the arches.
The entire monument is surrounded by a fortifying wall which is rectangular in plan. The four corners of the fortifications have watch towers that would have been used to keep an eye on the intruders into the Women's chambers.
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Size: 7" H x 9.25" W pen and ink on 180gsm sketching paper
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