Located on the southern bank of river Tungabhadra in Karnataka lies the small village of Hampi. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, Hampi offers a bewitching experience of forlorn ruins spread over a beautiful landscape.
Spread across a small area of 26 km. sq., this village attracts lakhs of visitors every year, especially during its annual festival, ‘Hampi Utsav’.
In the Ramayana, this area was Kishkinda, the realm of the monkey gods. Harihara and Bukka were the founders of Vijayanagara empire with the guidance of Sage Vidyaranya. Hence, the name Vidyanagar also. Vijayanagar’s busy bazaars were centres of international commerce, and overflowed with precious stones. All this came to an end in 1565 when the city was ransacked by Deccan sultanates. A large number of royal buildings were raised by Krishnadevaraya, the ruler of the dynasty.
Hampi has over 500 monuments including temples, ruins of palaces and aquatic structures etc. Its landscape is vast and dotted with big boulders against a backdrop of banana plantations and palm trees.
PLACES TO VISIT
VIRUPAKSHA TEMPLE: With a 160-feet high tower at the entrance, this is the oldest temple in Hampi. The main shrine is dedicated to Sri Virupaksha, a form of Lord Shiva. A three-headed Nandi inside the courtyard attracts tourists, while on the back side of the temple, there is light falling through a hole which casts an upside down shadow of the tower on the opposite wall, scientifically called ‘The Total Internal Reflection’.
VITTALA TEMPLE COMPLEX: It houses one of the best and most well-known sculptures in Hampi and the famous 56 musical pillars, tapping which, produces music. The iconic stone chariot in the premises of this temple complex is a symbol of Karnataka tourism. There are carvings of angels, lotus, swans, yoga postures and horses.
BADAVI LINGA: This monolithic, black stone Linga is the biggest in Hampi. Nearly 12 feet high, it always remains in water since a canal passes through the temple in which it is situated.
UGRA NARASIMHA: This 22-feet idol is the biggest in Hampi. It shows Narasimha sitting on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake. This is an iconic statue which has been damaged by invaders.
MAHANAVAMI DIBBA: This is the tallest structure in this area. The stairways are decorated with carvings. King Krishnadevaraya constructed this in commemoration of the victory over Udaygiri. The king used this platform to watch the army’s march-pasts, war games, shows of the royal animals, musical performances and important festivals.
Hampi is a must visit place for those who love history and culture. The list of places worth visiting here is endless. Hampi is a major pit stop for the travellers, with November to March being the peak season.