Tenali Rama

By Subhadra Sen Gupta

Hampi stands right next to the River Tungabhadra as the river curves and froths through the hills that surround the village. These hills are not grassy green and full of trees, but bare rock, huge grey and brown-gold boulders piled one on top of another as if a crazy giant had played a mad game with the stones. Below the hills and by the banks of the river, the land was green and beautiful—full of coconut trees, paddy fields, banana groves, and through it, water flowing like shimmering silver in the narrow canals.
Many villages have hills and rivers but in Hampi, among the rocks, in the fields, by the river, and just about everywhere you looked, there were magnificent ruins. Stone temples with tall gopuras reaching for the sky, arcades of shops, palaces, pavilions, lookout points on top of the crags, high gateways…everything was covered with carvings so beautiful it made Basava sigh with happiness.
Prancing horses, grimacing lions, mythical animals, marching soldiers, dancing women, gods, goddesses, elephants, Nandi bulls, camels… the whole world was carved on the pillars, walls and tall gopura gates of these ruins. For many centuries the world had forgotten about Hampi, but now they were coming back to this magical place. Their little village had become famous again. Hampi was once the fabulous medieval city of Vijayanagar. A city so famed for its beauty that travellers and traders crossed continents, and voyaged the seas to see it.

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