Crowds flock to Hampi for a king’s coronation!

January 27th, 2010 - 3:59 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Fakir Balaji
Hampi (Karnataka), Jan 27 (IANS) Thousands of people descended on this world renowned heritage site Wednesday to witness the 500th anniversary of the coronation of Krishnadevaraya as emperor of the mighty Vijayanagara kingdom of yore!

Hours before the formal celebrations began in the evening, people used all modes of transport to throng the decked up ruins where a massive stage has been erected to recreate the grandeur of the coronation amid pomp and pageantry befitting the legendary king.

The three-day Hampi Utsav is being held at six venues spread over this 16th century capital of the Vijayanagara empire on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, about 350 km from Bangalore.

“The festival aims to portray the grandeur of the time when Hampi was the capital of Vijayanagara, one of the greatest Hindu kingdoms in India’s medieval history,” Kannada culture director Manu Baligar told IANS at the venue.

“The fest began with rural and adventure sports getting under way at the Kamalapura grounds from 10 a.m. onwards. Sports, including wrestling, kabaddi and weight-lifting, and rock-climbing that were popular during the emperor’s reign are staged to relive the golden times,” he said.

Jagdish Shettar, the state rural development and panchayat raj minister who inaugurated the sports, lamented that youth had forgotten native sports and games due to cricket mania.

“I hope staging sports and other physical activities that were popular during the Krishnadevaraya reign will revive interest among our youth, especially in rural areas,” Shettar said on the occasion.

Goolihatti Shekar, the state youth and sports minister, participated in rock-climbing with about 200 youths.

Finishing touches were given to the main stage, which has been artistically decorated with stone platforms that were the hallmarks of Vijayanagara architecture .

Hundreds of artists from Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai built a make-shift stage measuring 200 feet wide, 100 feet long and 40 feet high for the cultural extravaganza at the inaugural ceremony.

Noted danseuse Sonal Mansingh, classical vocalist Pandit Jasraj and actress-politician Hema Malini will perform after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj launches the fest before sunset.

Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, his cabinet colleagues and dignitaries will be present at the three-hour long inaugural event. Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will grace the occasion.

“The present generation has a lot to learn from the golden era of Krishnadevaraya, who ruled the Vijayanagara empire for 21 years from 1509 to 1530,” Baligar pointed out.

A grand procession, comprising about a dozen elephants, a score of camels and 40 horses will precede the inaugural event from ‘Sasivekalu Ganesha’, a giant rock statue of Hindu god Ganesha, to the main venue, which is a mile away.

About 500 folk artists, musicians, drummers, dancers and singers will also form the procession.

Spread over 26 sq km, the Hampi ruins lie in the Deccan heartland of south India, with the Tungabhadra river flowing in the north and rocky hills and boulders on the three other sides.

The windswept hamlet was once the centre of a vibrant, thriving culture that enriched the carved temples and rock-cut magnificence.

Various cultural programmes, including song and dance, and a sound and light show, will recreate the grandeur and glory of the empire over the next two days.

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