Hampi is the Vijayanagar capital (one of the
largest empires in the history of India), in it's ruins of
temples, palaces and forts. Hampi was the 14th century magnificent
capital of one of the greatest empires of the world. Hampi
is full of surprises. A strange and magical place, Hampi is
one of the most beautiful towns in Karnataka. Hampi is famous
for its ruins belonging to the erstwhile medieval Hindu kingdom
of Vijaynagar and it is declared a World Heritage site. The
temples of Hampi, its monolithic sculptures and monuments,
attract the traveler because of their excellent workmanship.
The Hindu style of architecture found at Hampi reflects the
splendor of the Vijaynagar Empire. The rugged landscape adds
to the historic ambience of this site. It was the capital
of the mighty Vijayanagar empire founded in 1336.
Hampi is located in the central part of the state of Karnataka,
in the southern part of India. It is 353 km from Bangalore,
and 13 km from Hospet. It is located on top of a rugged terrain
and is 467 m above sea level. It is protected by the tempestuous
Tungabhadra river on the north and by rocky granite ridges
on the three sides. Covering an area of about 26 kms, the
ruins are situated in the midst of a rugged landscape. Hampi
is like a Open -air museume of temples, The Virupaksha Temple
rises majestically, at the western end of a 700 m long street,
that was once the famous Hampi bazaar. Nearby is the 6.7 m
tall monolith of Ugra Narasimha or Lakshmi Narasimha, is located
in the south of the Hemakuta group of temples that includes
the Virupaksha Temple. The Narasimha is a four-armed figure
seated under the canopy of a seven-hooded snake. But by far
the most amazing monument in Hampi, is the Vittala Temple
Complex, with its 56 musical pillars. Legend has it, Lord
Vishnu found it too grand to live in and thus, returned to
his own 'humble home'.To the east of the complex is the famous
Stone Chariot, with stone wheels, that actually rotates.
Hampi, are one of the most fascinating historical sites in
south India. The superb ruins are set in a strange and beautiful
boulderstrewn landscape which has an almost magical quality.The
first settlement in Hampi dates back to 1st century AD and
a number of Buddhist sites belonging to that time have been
found nearby. Hampi was the capital of the mighty Vijaynagar
Empire. Vijaynagar was one of the largest Hindu empires in
India. The brothers Harihara and Bukka established the Vijayanagar
Empire in 1336. In an age when the powerful Mughal army of
the north was stamping its authority on almost the entire
subcontinent, this southern Hindu kingdom proved too difficult
to crack. In 1509-29 during the reign of Krishnadevaraya the
empire reached the pinnacle of its influence economically,
militarily and culturally, the legacy of which abides till
date. In 1565 the end came swiftly. Unable to withstand the
combined assault of the neighboring Muslim kingdoms, Hampi
fell at the battle of Talikota. From then it was only a matter
of time before the conquering forces made rapid inroads into
the rest of the empire. The ruins of Hampi are extremely popular
with tourists who flock here to soak in a sense of the past;
and in every ‘reliving’, this seemingly dead city lives again.
Hampi is one of the important pilgrimage center for both Hindus
and Jains. It is stated that this was the place called kiskindha
of Ramanaya the birth place of Lord Hanuman.
The Hindu kingdom of Vijaynagar was founded in 1336, with
its capital at Hampi. This city is easily one of the most
beautiful, extensive and fascinating cities of India's ruined
kingdoms. Vijaynagar reached its peak in the early 1550s,
but in 1565 fell to the Deccan Sultanates, when Bijapur gained
importance as the capital of this kingdom. Today, Bijapur
is a small city surrounded by an imposing wall, and packed
with an impressive collection of mosques and other reminders
of its glorious past. This windswept little village was once
the centre of a vibrant, thriving culture that enriched the
entire region with carved temples and rock-cut magnificence.
All the outer side of the gate of the temple up to the roof
is covered with copper and gilded, and on each side of the
roof on the top are certain great animals that look like tigers,
all gilt. As you enter this idol shrine, you perceive from
pillar to pillar on which it is supported many little holes
in which stand oil lamps which burn every night and they will
be in number 2,500 or 3,000".
The pillared interior echoes with the murmur of voices and
the squeak of bats suspended in the dark recesses. Eyes sweep
the walls with silent reverence, hands tap the hollow pillars
that were played like musical instruments. Outside, the granite
chariot of the sun god proudly stands in a central courtyard.
Its stone wheels could still be turned by hand till a few
years ago when the authorities sealed them to prevent damage.
The architecture of the Vitthala Temple strikes a fascinating
balance between delicate craftsmanship and awesome presence.
Against the gate there were two circles in which there were
the dancing women, richly arrayed with many jewels of gold
and diamonds and many pearls. Opposite the gate there are
two buildings...these buildings were all hung with rich cloths,
both the walls and the ceilings, and the cloths of the walls
were adorned with figures in the manner of embroidery; these
buildings have two platforms one above the other, beautifully
sculpted, with their sides well made and worked. On the upper
platform close to the king was Christovao de Figrueiredo (another
Portuguese traveler), for the king commanded that he should
be put in a place as best to see the feasts and magnificence".
Now in a damaged state, the awesome image depicts the benign
aspect of the god since a part of the right hand goddess Lakshmi
skirts around the Narasimha suggesting that goddess Lakshmi
was originally seated on his lap. The monolith's disfigured
but its significance is undisputed. Now in a damaged state,
the awesome image depicts the benign aspect of the god since
a part of the right hand goddess Lakshmi skirts around the
Narasimha suggesting that goddess Lakshmi was originally seated
on his lap. The monolith's disfigured but its significance
Places to see
TUNGABHADRA DAM (17 Km)
15 km from Hospet is the site of the dam built across the
Tungabhadra river. The high masonry dam is about 590 metres
long and 49 metres high. The reservoir has a storage ca[acity
of 1,32,559 million cu.ft. of water spread over an area of
379 sq. kms.Regular bus services are available from Hospet.
Hampi Bazaar has almost returned to former glory with the
old buildings being functional again. Traders once more ply
their wares but now its mostly branded, packaged, with ‘sales
tax extra’! This area has a charm of its own and much of it
has to do with the fascinating phenomenon of renaissance.
The town of Hospet, which is 13 km from Hampi, is an important
tourist center. Travelers can have a panoramic view of surrounding
areas from the 49-m-high and 2-km-long Tungabhadra Dam, 6
km from Hospet.
In Hampi (Jan-Feb), the Virupaksha Temple Car Festival is
held, which is quite famous. The annual Purandaradasa Aradhana
Music festival at Vithala Temple to celebrate the birth anniversary
of the medieval poet-composer, Purandar.
is also held.