Among the group of monuments in Hampi, I came across a step tank next to the so-called Mahanavami mound. A small aqueduct ends above it, clearly meant to top up the tank. The precise geometrical pattern of this structure gives very interesting photos when the sun is about halfway between the horizon and the zenith. The well has been shaped into a square, and four sets of stairs descend from the ground to the water. The sides are inclined, so the opening at the top is larger than the surface of the well. Each set of stairs is a square pyramid in five levels. The shadows brought out this simple geometry very nicely. The excavation in 1980 was followed by a loving reconstruction.
Beyond a name, Kalyani tank (Kalyani pushkarini), I couldn’t find anything about this well-preserved structure: neither the years of construction, nor the social use. Was it somehow related to the Mahanavami mound, in which case they two might have been built at the same time? Or were they built at different times, so they are just accidentally near each other? Or could they have been built at different times, but used together when the later of the two structures was completed? Hampi became Vijayanagara’s capital in the 14th century, and probably abandoned by the end of the 16th century, so there are at least broad limits on the time during which the tank was built. The Monsoon Asia Drought Atlas shows that the climate was quite variable in this period, with two or three year-long droughts happening more than once during a person’s lifetime in imperial Hampi. A stable empire would therefore have to pay attention to water works. Still, I’m surprised by the utter lack of material on the monuments at this site.