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HomeReportsAncient water tank found in Virupaksha Temple complex, Hampi, Karnataka

Ancient water tank found in Virupaksha Temple complex, Hampi, Karnataka

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Krishna Baalu Iyer
Krishna Baalu Iyer
Columnist, poet, Activist-Heritage lover, Ancient Indian History, Architecture Twitter @IndusSpirit

It was just a month ago ( June 2018) in Bagpat that the Archeological Survey of India had stumbled upon 4000 yrs old relics of Horse driven Chariots belonging to Copper Bronze age of Mature period of Indus Valley Civilization (IVC-2600-1900).

On 8th July 2018 the ASI (Karnataka zone) was again pitched upon another archaeological and Historical find of importance, this time it was in Hampi, Karnataka. The ASI discovered a ‘pushkarini’ on the premises of the Virupaksha temple at Hampi in Karnataka. (https://goo.gl/3p5Zeu ) belongs to erstwhile Vijayanagara Empire in Hampi.
The Pushkarini was measured 10ft x 20 ft with a depth of 9 ft. This Pushkarini has a water connection channel running North-South. The top layer of the tank around has carvings of the Vijayanagara era embossed all the sides, portraying Yogis, animals, birds, bullocks, dancers, musicians etc. On the second layer, aquatic life representation was found. The most attractive depictions were long-necked swans and cranes which were found all along the layer of the tank. It may be noted that the octagonal water pavilion in Hampi was a famous archaeological section. The octagonally shaped pavilion with steps leading to the centre tank is a tourist attraction and is an Archeologically important monument too. This was Queen’s bathing place during the time of Vijayanagara Empire.
This was a chance discovery while levelling the ground and laying stone slabs after demolishing the tourist accommodation rooms. During this time, a Kannada Inscription which read ‘Prabha Theertham’ was found. This lead to the further excavation in the area which resulted in the discovery of the water tank said Ms Moortheshwari, Superintendent Archeologist, Hampi mini circle of ASI. The importance of this discovery of Pushkarini is not just confined to Temple practices alone, but the water channels running off from the pushkarini is the best model of the well-advanced water supply and irrigation system that was employed and managed by the rulers too.
The then Vijayanagara Rulers built a comprehensive water management system both for irrigation in the regions of Raichur and Bellary Districts of Karnataka by building 1. River anicuts 2. Tanks 3. Wells & 4. Lifts and channels. Drawing water from the Tunga Badra and other tributary rivers through channels constructed to the agricultural fields. The ruler’s irrigation and water management were very popular and the Portuguese visitor  Domingo Paes in early 16th Century was all praise of the Vijayanagara rulers their ingenious water management system.
“He visited the Vijayanagar Empire around 1520 AD, extolled the ingenuity of monarch Krishna Deva Raya to provide irrigation and water supply to the newly-founded city of Nagalapura (Hospet). The traveller wrote, “The king made a tank there, which as it seems to me, has the width of falcon shot (a shot from a falcon — an old piece of artillery) and it is at the mouth of two hills so that all the water that comes from either side collects there. And besides this, water comes to it from more than three leagues by pipes, which run along the lower parts of the range outside. This water is brought from a lake that overflows into a little river. The tank has three large pillars handsomely carved with figures — these connect above with certain pipes by which they get water when they have to irrigate their gardens and rice fields. In order to make this tank, the said king broke down a hill and in it, I saw about 15,000 men at work, looking like ants so that you could not see the ground on which they walked.” 
Hampi is not only a 14th – 16th-century archaeological wonder, but its ancient historicity goes back to Ramayana age.  The legendary Kingdom of Vanaras the ‘Kishkinda’ kingdom is situated near Hampi.  The toponym Hampi—traditionally known as Pampa-kshetraKishkindha-kshetra or Bhaskara-kshetra—is derived from Pampa, another name of goddess Parvati in Hindu theology. Next, it was  Emperor Ashoka‘s Rock Edicts found in Nittur and Udegolan—both in Bellary district 269-232 BCE—suggest this region was part of the Maurya Empire during the 3rd century BCE.
In this backdrop of the Vijayanagara Kingdom’s marvellous water wisdom, these new findings inside the  Virupaksha Temple Complex would add more enthusiasm and ASI may in coming days excavate more relics connected to the Pushkarini all around the temple complex bringing to the fore,  the fabulous mechanism and technology that were employed by the Vijayanagara Kingdom,  to the much delight of Heritage lovers. 

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Krishna Baalu Iyer
Krishna Baalu Iyer
Columnist, poet, Activist-Heritage lover, Ancient Indian History, Architecture Twitter @IndusSpirit
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