A few hundred feet away from the Mahanamavi dibba, an open channel cuts across the arid landscape. The channel is about a foot in diameter and sits on top of dressed granite blocks urging the water from the river Tungabhadra using nothing but gravity. Since Hampi has long hot summers, it is obvious that at one point in time the channel was covered, probably with burned bricks, to avoid evaporation. The aqueduct pours the water into a wonderfully symmetrical and well preserved water tank called Pushkarni. The square tank is 22m wide and 7m deep (22/7 = ratio of the phi). Obviously the ratio is a coincidence as the metric system was unknown to southern India in the fifteenth century.
After Hampi was sacked in the sixteenth century and the city left to rot, the tank accumulated dirt and was lost to mankind. It was discovered as recently as 1981 by a young member of the ASI who was having a “Newton moment”. Apparently he was standing besides this branch of the aqueduct that ended over – uh – nothing.
“This where a tank should be”, he said. Fortunately he borrowed a shovel, dug a foot and discovered the steps. The rest, as they say, is history. The tank is one of the most startling and important architectural discoveries in recent times. So startling and important, that I cannot find a single authoritative article that talks about the event. After five thousand years, Indians are still bad with documentation.
Notice how the channel does not line us with any of the elements of the tank? Supposedly there was a basin below the channel to gather water (the step does have a drilled hole and could have received the based of one), but I still cannot imagine how it would take care of the symmetry.