Hampi Lotus Mahal
Monday, December 01 2008 @ 10:00 AM IST
Lotus Mahal, also known as Kamal Mahal or Chitrangini Mahal is situated in the Zenana Enclosure of the monuments. It is a ticketed monument and a single ticket would let you into the Zenana Enclosure covering several monuments including Elephant Stables. The term Zenana refers to the Women and Zenana Enclosure in general would refer to the Queens’ enclosure along with the servants’ quarters around and private temples.
Lotus Mahal is a two storied very symmetric structure exhibiting a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture. The base of the structure depicts a Hindu foundation of stone just like in the temples, typical of Vijayanagara Architecture while the upper superstructure is Islamic in architecture with pyramidal towers instead of regular dome shapes, giving it a Lotus-like look, originating in the name. Also, this is one of the very few buildings that have the plaster intact though it is defaced at several places due to wear and tear, especially; the dampness on the walls is very visible. The exemplary carvings on the pillar arches including those of birds and delicate art work can be very mesmerizing, especially with the Makara Torana on top of these arches that can still be seen on some of them.
It is also believed that the Mahal or Palace was air-cooled and maintained its temperature during summer. The proof of this can be seen in the pipeline work above and between the arches.
The entire monument is surrounded by a fortifying wall which is rectangular in plan. The four corners of the fortifications have watch towers that would have been used to keep an eye on the intruders into the Womens’ chambers. While it was a very popular practice to have Eunuchs hold guards at Queens’ Palaces in the North India, especially during Moghul rule, the existence of such a practice has not come to light in the Vijayanagara kingdom and era.