At Hampi, the past comes alive. Whispering winds, magnificient ruins, traces and scents of a bygone era all linger fresh here. And they virtually transport you to a world of kings, battles and long forgotten marvels. Welcome to the world's largest open-air museum :: Hampi, Karnataka
Hampi was the capital city of the magnificent Vijayanagara Empire. Founded by Harihara and Bukka in 1336, it fell to the rulers of Northern India in 1565 after the Battle of Talikota, and subsequently lapsed into decline and abandonment.
The once proud city of victory is now a city of desolation. However, the ruins of these historical monuments have stood the ravages of man and time and still evoke memories of regal splendour.
Amidst an awesome boulder-strewn landscape along the banks of the Tungabhadra river, Hampi was one of the glittering showpieces of India's might in the 15th century. There were opulent palaces, marvellous temples, massive fortifications, baths, markets, pavilions and stables for royal elephants. The city's merchants traded in diamonds, pearls, fine silks, brocades, horses and much more.
What to See
The largest enclosure in Hampi, the King's palace includes two major platform structures, an underground chamber which must have served as a treasury or private audience hall, several minor platforms and double fortification walls, besides other interesting architectural elements.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Pampadevi, this is the only temple here that is still used for worship. Parts of the temple predate the Vijayanagara empire. The temple, with its nine storied gopuram, towers above the other structures at Hampi. The ceiling of the Ranga Mantapa is beautifully painted with scenes from the epics and Puranas.
Two Ganesha images(Sasuvekalu and Kadalekalu) can be seen on the slopes of the Hemakuta Hill. One of them is enclosed in a temple with unusally tall pillars, while the other is in an open hall.
The awesome 6.7 meters high monolith depicting the man-lion form of Vishnu is seated on a seven hooded serpent.
Located next to the Lakshminarasimha statue, the Badavilinga is 3 meter high and stands permanently in water that flows through an ancient channel.
Vijaya Vithala Temple
The Vijaya Vithala Temple is Hampi's crowning glory, with a magnificent stone chariot standing temple courtyard. Equally impressive is the large Ranga Mantapa with 56 musical pillars that resound with musical chimes when struck.
An imposing edifice with arched entrances and many domes that once housed the magnificent state elephants.
The stepped water tank, excavated in the mid 1980's, was originally a part of the palace complex. Almost lyrical in its beauty, the tank is a tiered structure crafted from rectangular pieces of granite.
This visually appealing strucutre has two levels, with open pavilions at the bottom and balconies above. Highlighting the fusion of the Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture, the Mahal derives its name from its beautiful, geometrically arranged cusped arches that resemble the petals of the lotus opening to the sun.
Hazara Rama Temple
The royal temple reserved for ceremonial use, the Hazara Rama Temple is embellished with bass reliefs depicting scenes from the epic, Ramayana. The walls of the enclosure are richly carved with friezes depicting processions of horses, elephants, dancing girls and soldiers attired in splendid armour. Inside, four exquisitely sculpted granite pillars add to the beauty of the Ardha Mantapa.
Equally impressive is the massive Mahanavami Dibba, where the kings of the Vijayanagara Empire once sat upon their gem studded golden throne and watched processions pass by. The structure is also embellished with densely carved bands of horses, soldiers ans depictions of various aspects of courtly life.
Though the exterior may appear simple, the interior is stunningly ornate, with graceful arched corridors, projecting balconies and lotus shaped fountains that once spouted perfumed water for the ladies of the court.
Anegundi (15 km)
Just across the Tungabhadra river is the fortress town of Anegundi, pre-dating the Vijayanagara Empire and its capital city. More anscient than Hampi, Anegundi lies in the mythical kingdom of Kishkinda, ruled by the monkey-king Sugriva of the Ramayana fame. Anjanadri Hill, near Anegundi, is believed to be the birthplace of the monkey god Hanuman. Anegundi and its tranquil environs are dotted with forgotten temples and fortifications. The dilapidated Huchappayana Matha Temple, near the river, is worth a peek for its black stone lathe turned pillars and fine panels of dancers. The other places of interest are the sacred Pampa Sarovara, Aramane (a ruined palace) and the Ranganatha Temple.
Bangalore, the capital of Karnataka, is well connected to different parts of the world. Several international airlines operate direct flights to Bangalore. The city serves as a gateway to various destinations in Karnataka including Hampi, which is easily accessible from Bangalore by road and rail.