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.
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.
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.
This beautiful lotus shaped two storey
building was used as a summer retreat by the queens of the Vijayanagara
These stables, constructed to house
the royal elephants, were built in a combination of Hindu and Muslim styles of
to Visit Hampi
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.
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.