As per popular folklore, two local chiefs Hakka and Bukka were on a hunting expedition when they witnessed a fascinating event – A hound was chasing a hare and suddenly, the hare turned around and started chasing the hound, who fled away. Upon returning from the forest, they narrated the incident to their Guru, Vidyaranya. The Guru told them that they had in fact found a very special place, and advised them to shift their capital to that location. This was the start of an empire that went on to become one of the richest. In a span of over 200 years four dynasties ruled this region – Hampi, also called Vijaynagar or the City of Victory. But we will talk about Vijayanagar empire and its feats in the field of town planning and architecture (which has earned Hampi the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site) in another article, for now we will go further back in time to find out what makes this place ‘special’, as pointed out by the Guru of Hakka and Bukka.
The land of Hampi, in Karnataka (near modern city of Hosapete), was not always the way it looks right now. Many millennia ago, it was a part of dense forests, called the Dandak Vana that extended from Vindhya range uptil the Southern Peninsula. The particular area of Hampi formed the capital of vanara kingdom, Kishkindha. The hillocks with huge boulders are till date populated with langurs and monkeys.
When Ravan kidnapped Devi Sita from Panchwati (Nasik), then Shri Ram and Lakshman journeyed south in her search. As per historical accounts, they met Tapasvini Shabari, at her ashram here who guided them on her search further. Shabari’s ashram is situated near a water tank called Pampa Sarovar. This name links this area to the still more ancient story of Devi Parvati worshipping Lord Shiv. The ashram is in the form of a small set of caves. At one place there are footprints of Lord Ram on stone, maintained as a shrine.
Anjaneya Hill, located across the river Tungabhadra in the Anegundi village, is believed to be the birth place of Hanuman. There is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman here. The hilltop offers a picturesque view of the entire Kishkindha nagri and the Tungabhadra river flowing through it.
On the banks of river, in an isolated hillside is the Kodandarama temple which houses an idols of Lord Ram and Lakshman holding a bow along with Devi Sita. Outside the garbhagriha is an idol of Bajrangbali Hanuman. This site coincides with the spot where Shri Ram coronated Sugriva as the king of Kishkindha after killing Vali.
Just a few meters from the temple is the Sugriva cave where the vanara king is said to have kept the ornaments of Devi Sita that fell from Pushpak.
YANTRODHARAK ANJANEYA TEMPLE
A short walk from the Kodandarama temple is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman. It is said to have been established by Maharishi Vyas. As per locals, the sage would place the idol inside the temple everyday and every morning find it outside the temple. He then used a shakti yantra to contain Hanuman ji (see image).
After coronating Sugriva, Lord Ram and Lakshman had to stay a while in Kishkindha to wait for the rainy season to end. The hill on which they spent this time now has a Raghhunath temple housing idols of Ram, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman.
This is where Lord Hanuman met Shri Ram & Lakshman. It is now a hermitage.
Named after Sage Matunga, who had cursed King Vali that he would die if he set his foot on this hill, Matunga hill is the highest spot in Hampi. The temple dedicated to Lord Rama on this hill is an important pilgrimage location. A heap of ash hill at a village near the Vittala temple is believed to be that of pyre of Vali.