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The Ruins of Hampi

by Madhav Srinivasan 5 year, 8 months ago

Hampi is a World Heritage Site, a city of ruins that contains monuments that are breathtaking even when they’re past their prime. The site where the original capital of the Vijayanagara Empire was housed – here’s more about this historical city.

Hampi, a small village and site of ruins, was once the capital of the glorious Vijayanagara Empire. The world heritage site is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in northern Karnataka. It lies at a distance of 350 km from Bangalore. If you’re a history and architecture buff, visiting Hampi can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for you.


A Peek at Hampi’s History

Traditionally, Hampi has been identified with Kishkintha, the legendary monkey kingdom mentioned in The Ramayana. This city served as the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire, the last great Hindu Empire in South India. Hampi was a natural fortress that was protected on one side by the Tungabhadra River and rocky hills on the other side.


At the Vijayanagara Empire’s peak, it is said that diamonds were sold on the streets of Hampi along with other items like flower and handicrafts. In ruins now, the many monuments in Hampi still stand testimony to the memory of what must have once been a thriving, vibrant city, with its commercial centers and its beautiful temples and palaces.


The Monuments in Hampi

There are so many temples, palaces and other monuments here that it would be impossible to list them all. But some of the most riveting sites have been given below.


The Virupaksha Temple

A good number of the structures in Hampi are centered on the Hampi Bazaar. Near the west end of the bazaar is the famous Virupaksha temple. This majestic temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, has a 120 ft tall Gopura at its entrance. The temple has shrines that are dedicated to deities like Shiva, Bhuvaneshwari and Pampa.


This temple is actually older than the Vijayanagara Empire and near this temple is a huge statue of Lord Narasimha, sculpted out of a single rock.


The Malyavantha Raghunathaswamy Temple

This Dravidian style temple is a captivating site, even when seen from a distance. The temple is known for the carvings of strange figures of sea monsters and fish. This temple is one of the few in Hampi that is still being used as a place of worship.


Hazara Ramaswamy Temple

This temple to Sri Rama is believed to have been the private place of worship for members of the royal family.

The Vittala Temple

This is considered to be the most magnificent one among the temples around Hampi. Known for its ornate pillars and intricate carvings, this temple has 56 musical pillars which give out musical notes when tapped. To the east of the great hall of this temple is a magnificent stone chariot with wheels that can actually be moved.


Other Monuments

House of Victory

This monument was built to commemorate the victory of Krishnadevaraya over the King of Orissa. Krishnadevaraya was the greatest king of this dynasty. It is believed that the king sat in this beautifully decorated mandapa to witness the Dasara celebrations that normally last for ten days.


King’s Balance

This place houses the balance or Tula or scale on which the king used to weigh himself against gold or precious stones, which were then distributed to the poor.


Lotus Mahal

This beautiful lotus shaped two storey building was used as a summer retreat by the queens of the Vijayanagara dynasty.


Elephant Stables

These stables, constructed to house the royal elephants, were built in a combination of Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture.


When to Visit Hampi

Hampi is worth a visit at any time of the year, even during the summer, if you are ready to brave the heat of this rocky terrain. It is a magnificent place that you’ll definitely not forget in a hurry. The best time to visit Hampi would be during the winter months, though.

You can even take a trip during the monsoon, if you can handle slippery rocks.

If you need an occasion to visit the place, then the Hampi Festival held every year during the first week of November would be an ideal time to take a trip. During this time, the monuments around the town are lighted up and the Hampi Utsav itself is a magnificent celebration of music and dance.

Getting to Hampi

Hospet, which lies at a distance of 13 km away, is the nearest railway station. Hampi is well connected by bus routes through Hospet. While Bangalore and Belgaum are the nearest major airports, there is an airstrip in Sandur Taluq, 32 km away, at place called Tornagallu.

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