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Hampi

Hampi is an extraordinary destination; it is the 14th century ruined capital of the powerful and prosperous Vijaynagar dynasty and is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monuments here are exceptional examples of ancient Indian architecture.

Hampi, nearly 350 km from Bangalore, is an extraordinary amalgamation of history and nature spread across an area of 26sq/km; it is speckled with boulders and vegetation, surrounded on 3 sides by rocky granite hills and by the Tungabhadra river on its 4th side  Hampi is a fascinating destination.
Hampi was reputedly grander than Rome in its time. The monuments, although in ruins, still depict the grandeur and wealth that once endowed the Vijayanagar Empire. It was born out of a resurgent Hinduism, which pledged to oppose the incursions of the Delhi Sultanate into the Deccan. The monuments include grand palaces, gateways and temples that remain mute reminders of the prosperity and magnificence of the Vijayanagara Empire. The level of craftsmanship and artistry of the ancient sculptors is  in the architecture of the ruins that is unparalleled.
Hampi was declared a UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in 1986.
Histyorical importance of Hampi:
In Indian mythology Hampi is identified as Kishkindha in the Ramayana - the famous monkey kingdom of Sugriv where Hanuman was born, met lord Ram and helped him in his campaign to free Sita from Ravana.
Historically Hampi was the capital of renowned Vijayanagara Empire which existed in the southern part of the country during medieval times. Saint Vidyaranya was responsible for establishing the mighty Hindu empire of Vijayanagara with the help of his two disciples Hakka and Bukka in 1336 A.D.
According to folklore Hakka & Bukka told their guru Saint Vidyaranya about an unusual incident they observed during a hunting expedition in the jungles of Hampi. A hare was being chased by their hound, when suddenly the hare turned courageous, turned around and started chasing the hound.  Vidyanaranya was impressed by the story and advised them to establish their capital here and name it Vijaynagar.
Apparently this incident encouraged and molded the philosophy of the Vijayanagar Empire, who derived the courage from the story to never bow down to the might of the northern Sultanates.
King Krishnadeva Raya was the most renowned among the rulers of the Vijayanagar; during his regime the empire covered the whole of southern India.
The fall of the empire startedin 1565 when the five Bahmani Deccan Sultanates joined in a campaign to defeat the Vijayanagara army. The jealousy and wrath of the conquerors led to Vijaynagar being completely plundered and its people massacred – it brought the glorious history of the city to a tragic end.

This empire was a thriving center of music, art and literature which extended through Karnataka, Andhra and Maharashtra. The driving vision of the rulers of this kingdom was to re-invigorate the Indian culture, temples and work towards the welfare of its citizens. Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara empire from 1336 – 1565; afterwards it was devastated in war by the Deccan conquerors reduced to ruins.
Hampi was named after the Kannada word Hampe, a derivative of the word Pampa, which is the old name of the Tungabhadra River. It was also known as Vijayanagara and Virupakshapura named after the  Virupaksha, the deity of the Vijayanagara rulers.

It is believed that Vijayanagara was not only the mightiest Hindu kingdom of its period, but also an important trade center. The local markets of Hampi were crowded with businessmen from all over the world who came here to trade in spices and cotton. It is believed that precious stones like rubies and diamonds were sold on streets by measuring them on seers; these were scales similar to what people today use in rural India to measure weights.
Hampi’s colorful history  and lush green natural beauty are a treat for history and nature lovers alike. Hampi also provides an insight into the ancient art and architecture that prevailed during medieval India.


Hampi Architecture:
The ruins of Hampi display evidence of a stunning architectural style of its own, that now has been identified as the Vijayanagara Architecture. It is an interesting fusion of many distinct architectural styles of the period. Contrasting influences of Dravidian and Islamic architecture are clearly evident and depict in-depth architectural knowledge and open-mindedness of the planners.


Hampi Rocks and Boulders:
The ruins of Hampi are strewn with uncountable huge boulders, creating a bizarre, surreal landscape that forces the visitor to wonder about their origin. Some of the enormous boulders are stacked over oneanother and some are split vertically making their presence impossible to explain and comprehend. These boulders were used to create the palaces and monuments of Hampi; the juxtaposition of the boulders and monuments crafted from those boulders give the impression that the monuments actually emerged out of the boulders themselves.


Coracle ferry:
Visitors crossing the Tungabhadra River to the Virupaksha or Kodandarama Temple, should take a coracle ferry ride to do so. Coracles are circular basket rafts made of bamboo cane, typical relics of this region. Due to the circular shape the coracle spins with the flow of the river. The experience is matchless and a not to be missed.

 

Shri Vijayavitthala Temple
Dedicated to Lord Vitthala (or Lord Vishnu), Vijayavitthala presents one of the grandest sights in Hampi. The construction of the temple was initiated by King Krishna Deva Raya in 1513 AD, but further enhancements continued untill 1565 AD when the empire was defeated. The structure exhibits Dravidian style temple architecture, which is common to the majority of the temples in southern India. The inner or the main sanctum holds the deity idols. This sanctum is considered extremely holy and only the priest of the temple is allowed to enter. The sanctum is followed by a larger structure decorated with exquisite stone carvings. High walls enclose the temple structure with three gateways facing east, south and north. The base of the temple is intricately carved with the scenes of the king’s army and dancing girls. The carvings at the temple display the magnificence and affluence of the Vijayanagara Empire and at the same time also the superior art of the artisans during that period. The characteristic features of the temple are 56 musical pillars which produce musical sounds on tapping them gently.
Stone Chariot
Located inside the Vijayavittala Temple complex, this stone chariot can be found to the east of the temple hall. It is in the form of a chariot or Ratha in which the temple deities are taken out during a religious procession. With stone wheels and beautiful carvings, this chariot is like a small temple that attracts the immediate attention of the visitors.
Kodanda Rama Temple
The Kodanda Rama Temple has immense religious significance, since it was here that Lord Ram crowned Sugriva as the emperor of the Monkey Kingdom Kishkhinda. The religious importance of the structure is further accentuated due to the fact that it faces the Chakrathirtha, the most sacred bathing Ghat of river Tungabhadra. The main complex of the temple is home to a 15 feet(convert to meters) tall statues of lord Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana. These statues are carved out of a natural stone. The Kodanda Rama Temple is a renowned religious pilgrimage center and even today offerings are brought to the temple and regular pujas are performed here. It is located in eastern Hampi. Located just behind this structure are the Sudarshana Temple in the shape of a human figure with sixteen hands and the Temple of Yantrodharaka Anjaneya.
Hazari Rama Temple
Devoted to Lord Rama this temple is popularly known as the Hazari Rama Temple or Hazara Rama Temple since it depicts a huge number of scenes from the famous epic Ramayana. It is believed that this structure was the private temple of the royal family of the Vijayanagara Empire. Ardha Mandapa is the sanctum of the temple; it has a pillared hall and was the original structure of the temple. The pillars in the Ardha Mandapa are very distinctive, as they are carved out of black stone. This structure was further extended with an open porch that consisted of intricately carved pillars. The entire structure is enclosed with a high rising wall, which has a central gateway towards the east. A smaller gateway opens towards the south and is directly linked to the Durbar area (what is this???). A wall in the sanctum also depicts lord Vishnu as Buddha. Intricately carved scenes from Ramyana adorn the temple walls. The details from the story of Lord Rama and his life are presented in a stunning piece of art work. The outer side of the wall displays carvings of dancing girls, horses, elephants and soldiers, while the interiors have finely carved scenes from the epic Ramayana. These carved panels symbolize the might and strength of the Vijayanagara Empire. The temple is an example of the master craftsmanship of the Vijayanagara sculptors and is an excellent insight to the grandeur of the kingdom.
Shri Virupaksha Temple
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Pampa and goddess Bhuvaneshwari this temple dates back to the 7th century and is situated at the foot of Hemakuta Hill. Originally the temple was a small place of worship which was extended impressively under the reign of Vijayanagara rulers. Also known as the Pampapathi temple, the main structure of the temple comprises of a sanctum, three chambers, a pillared hall and an open hall which is commonly known as the Mukha Mandapa or the Ranga Mandapa. This Mandapa was constructed by Krishna Deva Raya in 1510 A.D. The characteristic feature of Ranga Mandapa is made up of 38 pillars that are artistic masterpieces and are divided vertically in two halves; the first half is similar to a mythological lion which stands on a Makara and the second half of the pillars portrays Lord Shiva in various poses. The ceiling of this Mandapa is covered with beautifully painted scenes from the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Shiva Puranas. The entrance is flanked by the Virupaksha Bazaar which is one of the main markets of the town. On the sides of this bazaar lies the main Gopura (what is this????) of this temple known as the Bishtappa's Gopura. This 9 storied, 53 meters high Gopura is an architectural marvel that adds to the beauty of this market and the temple. A monolithic Nandi (bull of Shiva) majestically stands on the other side of this market.
Prasanna Virupaksha Temple
Also known as the Underground Virupaksha Temple, the temple bears an inscription which explains that the temple was built by the King Krishna Deva Raya on the occasion of his coronation. This east facing temple comprises of a large Gupura. The main sanctum of the temple comprises of several Mandapas; the innermost of these also known as the Maha Mandapa is characterized by a tall pillar that protrudes through the roof of the temple.
Balakrishna Temple
The temple was built by Krishnadevaraya in 1513 A.D. tocommemorate his victory over the ruler of Orissa. An inscription on the wall describes that the temple was dedicated on the 16th February 1515 by the king. It is believed that Krishnadevaraya constructed the temple to house the idol of Bal Krishna which he seized during his conquest over the emperor of Orissa. The temple is built around a courtyard. It has a sanctum, an entrance hall, an Ardha Mandapa and a pillared hall with entrances on three sides. There are also several idols of other deities, but the sanctum itself remains empty, since the main idol is on display at the Government Museum in Chennai. The inside of the temple is beautifully carved with several figures of Apsaras , animals and the ten incarnations of Lord Krishna.
Ugra Narasimha
This enormous statue of Lakshmi-Narasimha, popularly known as the Ugranarasimha, is nearly 6.7 m tall and was constructed in 1528 AD during the reign of Krishnadevaraya. The statue of Narasimha was carved out of a single stone and originally had a small Lakshmi idol sitting on his lap which was destroyed in 1565 A.D. The statue has been beautifully: Narsimha is shown with a mane, broad chest and protruding eyes. Elsewhere, Narsimha sits on his coiled snake Adisesha, with his seven hoods that form a canopy on the Lord. The statue of Goddess Lakshmi is now residing at the Kamalapura Museum.
Achyuta Raya Temple
The temple built by Salakaraju Tirumaladeva who was an officer of king King Achyutaraya. It is dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara but is more popular by the name Achyutaraya temple since it was built during the reign of king Achyutaraya. It is near to the Kodanda Rama Temple and can also be easily reached through Virupaksha Bazaar by climbing the steps next to the huge Nandi on the side of the Bazaar.
Sasivekalu Ganesha and Kadalekalu Ganesha shrines
Both these shrines can be found on the slopes of Hemakuta Hill. The Sasivekalu Ganesha statue is nearly 2.4m tall and is popularly known as Sasivekalu which means mustard seed. The idol is placed in a large Mandapa with four pillars. Ganesha’s belly in this idol is surrounded by a snake. Kadalekalu Ganesha which means gram seed is also located on the slopes of Hemakuta Hill. This idol is about 4.5m high and is placed in a large open Mandapa with pillars. The characteristic feature of these two idols is that they were each carved out of a single stone and stand majestically on the hill.
King's Balance
This structure located southwest of the Vijayavitthala Temple is also known as Tula Bhara or Tula Purushadana - which means the balance that was used to weigh the kings of Vijayanagara with gold, silver, gems and other precious stones. The kings weight was measured in precious metals and gems on special occasions like coronations, solar or lunar eclipse and later these items were distributed to the Brahmins. The balance consists of two huge pillars nearly 15 feet high; with a stone beam about 12 feet(convert to meters) long, placed horizontally across the pillars. One of the pillars is decorated with the carvings of the king and two queens of Deva Raya.
Mahanavami Dibba
It is known that this huge stone platform was constructed after Krishna Deva Raya's victory in Orissa. The platform was utilized during the nine-day Navratri festival and hence is popularly known as the Mahanavami Dibba or Dashera Dibba. The remains of this platform, which is described in local tales as an extravagant structure, has a gigantic square granite base with three tiers; the lowest tier a 40sq/m and the uppermost a 24sq/m structure. The entire platform is about 12m high. The walls of these tiers are intricately carved with statues of horses, elephants, warriors, dancers, and musicians. This massive structure gives a taste of the richness and prosperity of ancient the rulers of the area.
King's Audience Hall
This huge structure is located to the west of the Mahanavami Dibba. The remains make it evident that it once was a huge hall with nearly one hundred pillars and three staircases to reach the platform. The open hall was possibly used by the rulers, their queens, chieftains and other guests to watch the Navratri festivities.
Elephant Stable
The architecture of this building displays a strong influence of Islamic architecture. This building comprises of eleven large rooms with very high ceilings and was possibly used to house the royal elephants which were used in state ceremonies and religious festivities.
Stepped Well
This structure, located in the Durbar area, is a stepped well nearly 7 meters deep. The well was built in distinctive five tiers and has steps that are placed in a very artistic manner. The marks on the steps denote the direction and placing of the tank.
Matanga Hill and Hemakuta Hill
Matanga Hill This hill provides a breathtaking view of Hampi. The natural scenery, free flowing Tungabhadra river and several monuments are a treat to watch from this hill top. The hill is named after the famous sage Matanga who stayed here during the times of Ramayana. Hemakuta Hill The hill is famous for its religious importance, as it holds several ruins of ancient temples built during the period of 1309-1310 A.D. The temples are very similar to the architecture of Jain temples.
'Hampi Utsav' is hosted every year during the first week of November. It is a delight to watch since all the monuments are decorated with lights and there a cultural festival of dance and music takes place.
Nearby places Train stations Airports
BELLARY 70 Km 01H 07m
HINDUSTAN AIRPORT 394 Km 05H 49m
SAMBRE 261 Km 04H 02m
Bellary Junction 75 Km 01H 13m
Hospet Junction 13 Km 00H 18m
Nearby major cities
Name Distance Duration
29 Km 00H 34m
29 Km 00H 34m
386 Km 05H 38m
Bangalore is the IT hub of India and the capital of the state of Karnataka. In Old days Bangalore used to be referred to as the garden city of India in reference to the numerous well maintained gardens and green space within the city. Wodeyers were the rulers of Karnataka, Mysore used to be the prime city and capital of the erstwhile Mysore state, and Bangalore came into prominence during the British rule. At present it has evolved as large cosmopolitan city.
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Season Min. Temp. Max. Temp.
Summer 28 °C 44 °C
Winter 21 °C 30 °C
The climate is very pleasant during the winter months of the year. March to early June the summers are generally dry and hot.The colder period of the year is from November to February.
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