Monday, January 11, 2010

Hampi Festival: celebrating a great Hindu empire

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    • This month, the centuries-old temples of Hampi, in southern India, are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the Vijayanagara empire with a traditional festival of folk culture and elephants, brimming with life and colour.
    • Hampi, a small village, now, in the southern state of Karnataka, was the epicenter of this powerful alliance of Hindu villages whose combined military efficiency stopped the advance of the Muslims, then masters of most of the north of the subcontinent. Literature and the arts flourished in the Vijayanagara empire, which became immensely rich through trade in textiles, gemstones, spices and all the variety of merchandise the princes and regents had brought from the Indian seaports and as far afield as China.

      Evidence of this vast wealth is to be found in the ruins of hundreds of temples that are scattered in a 15 kilometre radius of the village of Hampi. Some 20 years ago, UNESCO granted the area the status of World Heritage Site.

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