Lotus Mahal of Hampi- Image by Sarangib - Pexels

I was all set and packed with my travel bag, as my family along with my aunt, uncle, and cousin had planned to visit “Hampi-the city of ruins”. I was excited. A trip to anywhere in the summer vacation was something any child would look forward to, isn’t it? We were supposed to leave early in the morning. When we reached Hampi, the historical place looked, hot, dry, and empty with all broken stones. I felt like the Sun almost looked angry for reaching late. I could picture my mom standing with her hands on her torso and looking at me to finish my plate of breakfast that I hated. My aunt and uncle had visited the place a couple of times and they assured me that it is an interesting place and I will soon like it. All I wanted was ice cream and to sit under the trees. I and my cousin followed the elders dragging our feet.

Today, all I could remember along with the famous Hampi main chariot and other temples is the Lotus Mahal. The guide went on telling us the stories of kings, and queens, how they lived, fought, and so on. What caught my mind is the beautiful and brilliant architecture in the Lotus Mahal.

Hampi isn’t a place to live; it’s a place to feel alive

The architecture of the Lotus Mahal

Lotus Mahal is also called Kamal Mahal or Chitragani Mahal. This palace got its name because of the shape in which it is built. Hampi is a historical place where a lot is in ruins and was destroyed in the battle of Talikota. The Vijayanagara Empire was ruined during the invasion by Muslim rule. There are a few palaces that was not destroyed or ruined during the attacks and Lotus Mahal is one of them.

The palace has its name because of the structure which looks like an open lotus bud. The balcony, passages, and central passage are in a dome shape. The style and design of the palace are built on both Islamic and Indian architecture with multi-layered roof designs.

The palace is a two-storied building, with pyramids that give a lotus-kind of structure. There are about 24 pillars to support the windows and balconies. This is a palace built for the queens to have their leisure time and enjoy cultural activities.

Cooling System Design of the Architecture

Coming to the point of what captured my mind as a child when we visited this palace, was the brilliant idea of the cooling system design or in our words the air conditioner system in the walls. Hampi is a place, where summers are at their peak and the sun’s-blazing heat and temperature rise to their maximum. Vijayanagara kingdom is known for the braveness, richness, and intelligence of its rule. The Lotus Mahal had this special structure where the roof and walls had holes with mud pipes throughout the building. These pipes circulated water, keeping the inner space of the palace cooler. If we think we are smarter, our kings and queens invented many ideas of technology much before us and we just modified these into modern technology and this is used in today’s refrigerator cooling system.

I was mesmerized by this invention. Being a schoolgirl from a small town, I felt like I had discovered something interesting that I needed to go back and share with my friends. I forgot how hot it was or was it the building being cool? Alright! Agreed that there were no pipes nor water circulating in the walls, however, the palace is surrounded by lush greens and huge trees which gave a cool breeze and kept the air cool inside.

The first floor of the palace windows has wooden blinds which are not seen in other palaces. This was specifically made for the queens as the palace was built for them and other ladies. These windows have exquisite carvings of beautiful sea creatures, birds, and artistic patterns that enhance the beauty of the palace. To intensify the safety of the queen, there are also three watch towers where the guards were stationed to keep an eye on the intruders. King Krishnadevaraya also stayed here and believed to have his meetings with his ministers. However, this palace was known for light meetings, leisure, recreational activities, and friendly socializing events.

Things to Do

  • Queen’s Bath:

Queen's Bath - Image by Sandip Kalal-Pexels

The Lotus Mahal is closer to the Queen’s bath which is about 800m and is a tourist attraction. It is a secluded spot specifically built for the king and the queens for bathing and massage therapies. The main bath is in the center of this monument and is about 15 square meters and 1.8-meter depth. The main bath is roofless and opens to the sky. The Queen’s bath and Lotus Mahal, together were both built mainly for the royal family to relax and stay during the summers to beat the heat.

  • Have a picnic:

Lush Greens of Lotus Mahal Palace - image by Sarangib - Pexels

After visiting other Hampi temples, people feel refreshed here at Lotus Mahal. Because of the surrounding gardens and trees. It’s a place where you can sit under a tree and relax, admiring the palace's beauty from a distance.

  • Visit nearby attractions:

Stone Chariot of Hampi - Image by Vijayanarasimha - Pexels

If time permits, you should also visit the elephant stable and Vittala temple. The elephants’ stable is where the royal elephants sheltered during the king’s time. It has an array of eleven dome-shaped chambers which are interconnected. Each chamber can accommodate two elephants. Vittala temple is also one of the main attractions with its stone chariot and most interesting is the magical tunes of the musical pillars in Ranga Mantapa.

  • Photography:

Lotus Mahal allows photography and videography free of charge and it is a great location to get your selfies or group photos and videos. You can walk around the beautiful architecture, the gardens, and the damp walls and get some good historical photos. A great time is during the sunset and it looks beautiful. Pick up your best gadgets and spread our beautiful heritage to show the artisan craftsmanship of a great dynasty.

How to reach?

The nearest place to reach Hampi or Lotus Mahal by air is Bellary which has an airport and is at a distance of 64 km from Hampi. From there you can go by train or by road. The nearest train station is at a distance of 10 km from Hampi in Hospet. Based on your mode of transport you can plan accordingly. To know more about the surroundings, hotels for stay, guides help, timings, entry fee and travels visit the Hampi Webpage.

A palace that I had seen with a child’s eye is in my mind even today as an adult woman and I am still fascinated with the beautiful architecture of the Vijayanagara Kingdom. Hampi though ruined is a must-visit and you would love to learn more about it if you are someone interested in history.

.    .    .