Zenana Enclosure – A Quadrangle Full Of Intricate Monuments
The Zenana Enclosure was a secluded and fortified area specially reserved for the royal ladies of the Vijayanagara Empire. It is located near the area which approaches the Royal Enclosure. No men except the royal king were allowed to enter inside the enclosure. It is a sprawling compound that had tall broad walls made out of cut stones arranged in interesting patterns that surrounded it on all sides and had watchtowers to keep guard against any trespassers.
Zenana Enclosure has several structures such as the Basement of the Queen’s Palace, Treasury Building, Lotus Mahal, Water Pavilion, Elephant Stable, and the Watch Towers. The major attraction inside the Zenana Enclosure is the Lotus Mahal which is one of the most remarkable structures in Hampi
History Of The Zenana Enclosure
The Zenana Enclosure was totally restricted for men and only the royal king was allowed to enter the enclosure to meet and spend time with the royal ladies of the Vijayanagara Empire. The enclosure was guarded by the guards from all the three sides of the three towers. An amazing view of the Elephant Stable from the top of the Zenana Enclosure could be visible, So often the royal women of the enclosure used to stand on the top and enjoy the view of the royal processions and other ceremonies organized in the enclosure.
Contrasting Belief About The Zenana Enclosure
Some archaeologists believe that the enclosure wasn’t an area for the royal women of the Vijayanagara Empire, They believe that the Lotus Mahal was a council room where the king held meetings with his chief commanders, and the treasury building present inside the enclosure is supposed to be an armory,
They assume the fact that the area of the Zenana Enclosure is near the Elephant Stable and the Guards Quarters. According to them, the area is considered more appropriate for being the King’s habitat rather than a secluded place for the royal women.
Architecture Of The Zenana Enclosure
The structures of The Zenana Enclosure are created with Indo-Islamic architectural style of architecture which is a deviation from the traditional Vijayanagara style of architecture seen in most of the structures or monuments of Hampi.
The Enclosure has two entrances one on the northern and the other on the northeastern side of the enclosure. It was a heavily guarded place that initially had four towers. But now, it has only three towers located in the northern, eastern and south eastern sides of the enclosure.
Most of the structures present here in the enclosure are in a ruined condition whereas the Lotus Mahal is in an undamaged condition that provides ample scope for tourists to admire the distinctive and exceptional architecture.
Also, there is an impressive structure here known as the Elephant Stable which is a long line of 11 domed chambers built with the same Indo-Islamic style of architecture. It is also believed that many monuments here which had Indo-Islamic influence were left untouched by the raiding Deccan Sultanate Army.
The Queens Palace which is the largest excavated base in Hampi is located at the middle of this area, Also the Royal Treasury Building is present here which is located in the north-western corner of the enclosure.