Nestled at the bank of the Tungabhadra River, Hampi is celebrated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire during the 14th century AD, this is a city drenched in history and splendour. In the 1500s, it even became the world’s second-largest and India’s richest cities. However, owing to incessant invasions by the Mughal sultanates and the defeat of the Vijayanagar Empire, Hampi is now a hollow echo of its past. One of the structures that witnessed it all and still stood high was the Lotus Mahal in Hampi. Also known as Kamal Mahal and Chitrangini Mahal, the Lotus temple was built in the 16th century in the Zenana Enclosure that houses quite a few interesting structures like the Basement of the Queen’s Palace, Treasury Building, Water Pavilion, and the Watch Towers.
Lotus Palace in Hampi is one of the best-preserved courtly structures here. It is believed that this is where the Queen of Krishna Deva Raya used to stay during summers. The ladies of the empire also spent their leisure time here. So, if you are planning on a Hampi tour package, you should not miss out on Chitrangini Mahal.
The Architecture of Lotus Palace
The Lotus Temple in Hampi is a splendid example of a harmonious architectural combination of Indian and Islamic (or Saracenic) architectural styles. Other than this, the overall plan of the palace is exceptional which is often praised for the ingenuity of the Vijayanagar artisans. This is what makes it one of the top places to visit in Hampi.
With cusped arches and intricate decorations, the ground floor has a spectator section that was once used by the royals for the congregation. There also exists an inclined eave that surrounds the edifice. The place gets its name from its archways that resemble the petals of a lotus. This gives the entire structure the shape of a half-open lotus bud. Also, the dome in the centre is carved in the shape of a lotus bud while towers are pyramidal in shape. This further enhances the lotus-like appearance of the Lotus Mahal. There are about 24 pillars that support the arched windows and balcony of the palace.
You can then go up to the first floor which is a closed pavilion with various oblong windows and distinct arches overlooking the impeccably manicured garden. Each of these windows has wooden blinds which is not a very common feature in other Hampi ruins. It is believed that these blinds were for the royal women. Coming to the roof, it contains nine superstructures that resemble the shikharas majorly found in Hindu temples. You can also come across a number of exquisite carvings of artistic patterns of sea creatures and birds that enhance the overall beauty of the Kamal Mahal in Hampi. One of the most prominent carvings is that of Makara Torana which is a significant sea creature in Hindu mythology. It is also considered to be the vehicle of Goddess Ganga.
The pipeline work that can be spotted between the arches and sides of the roof is the reason why Kamal Mahal in Hampi was the queen’s place to relax. This was apparently used to cool the palace and maintain its temperature. Also, to ensure the safety of the queen and other royal women, there were three watchtowers that were used to keep an eye on intruders.
Things to Do
One can roam around the Lotus Temple in Hampi and click some stunning pictures of the extraordinary architecture, the lush green gardens, and the ruined, damp walls. Each corner of the palace has a unique story to tell and you can capture it all with your camera. The place looks even more gorgeous during sunset. You can also witness this magnificent structure being illuminated at night which offers a spectacular sight. It is definitely one of the most mesmerising views in Hampi. This is also one of the best times to observe its awe-inspiring architecture and appreciate the artisans of that time.
Whether you are travelling alone or with family, this is a place where you would want to spend a little more time. You can either have a fun picnic with your loved ones in the garden area at Lotus Palace in Hampi or even enjoy a nap under the tree shade. The entire place remains cool even during the day, so it can be a great spot to avoid the scorching heat.
Visit the Elephants’ Stable
The elephant stable is located just outside the Zenana Enclosure and is a spot that should not be missed out on. This is a remarkable structure that was once used to provide shelter to the royal elephants of the Vijayanagar Empire. The structure has an array of eleven massive domed chambers which are interconnected with arched openings. Each of these chambers can accommodate two elephants at once.
Visit the Vittala Temple
The Vittala Temple is one of the most significant and ornate of the Vijayanagar Empire. Housing various halls, shrines, and pavilions every corner of this temple is something that should not be missed out on. Some of the most prominent ones are the shrine of the Goddess (also known as Devi shrine), Ranga Mantapa, Maha Mantapa – the main hall (also known as Sabha Mantapa), Kalyana Mantapa (marriage hall), Utsava Mantapa (festival hall), and the Stone Chariot. Also do not forget to listen to the magical tunes of the Musical Pillars in Ranga Mantapa.
How to Reach
The Lotus Palace in Hampi is easily accessible by road. Hampi is well-connected to almost all the major towns and cities in Karnataka. Also, there are a number of buses and private taxis that can help you reach Hampi. The nearest town to Hampi that has an airport is Ballari (Bellary) which is situated at a distance of about 64 kilometres from Hampi. The nearest railway station is located in Hosapete (Hospet) and is 10 kilometres away from Hampi.
So, if you are planning to visit this dreamlike place soon, here is some information that will help. Also, you can get more Lotus Mahal, Hampi information in Kannada, Hindi, or English at the official website.
Entry Timings: 08:00 AM – 06:00 PM
Lotus Palace Fee Details
- Indian Citizens: INR 20
- Foreigners: INR 250
History might have swallowed up a lot of structures here in Hampi, but thankfully it spared the Lotus Palace in Hampi which is an utter delight to explore. With ornate superstructures, stucco ornaments, and cornices, it is a place that will tune in to your emotions.