One of the UNESCO recognized world heritage sites in India, Hampi is a known tourist and archaeological destination attracting tourists from all over the world. If you love history and architecture then add this to your bucket list.
Situated in the southern state of Karnataka on the banks of the River Tungabhadra, Hampi is a beautiful historic city. Regarded as one of the most important world heritage sites in India, the city is ruins of Vijayanagara Empire. The temples and monuments there date back to 14th and 15th century and are scattered; royal residences, temples, towers, roads, and statues, all spread over a massive area.
People from all over the globe visit this historically rich city which was also one of the richest cities in the world. At one point it was the biggest trading centers of the world which brought lot of wealth to the city. Hampi was also rich in art and architecture. The monuments stand testimony to rich architecture and the great kingdom it was in the 14th century which was ruined later due to attacks by Moghuls.
Some Famous Monuments
Apart from being an important religious centre, Hampi is home to several other monuments that belonged to the old city. Some of them include the following.
Virupaksha Temple – Part of the Group of Monuments in Hampi, Virupaksha temple was built in dedication to Lord Shiva. The architectural beauty of this temple is a treat for
tourists especially those in love with history, religion and architecture. The temple was small when it was built; later it was extended during the ruling period of Vijayanagara Empire. The inscriptions on the structure go back to the 9th and 10th century.
Vittala Temple Complex – Dedicated to Lord Vittala, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the Vittala Temple Complex was built in 15th century. The beauty of the temple can be seen in several hallways, gateway, towers and pavilions. The effort of every king who ruled in beautifying the temple resulted in a striking structure with stone chariot as the highlight of the temple. The temple is also known for musical pillars; each pillar depicts a musical instrument and also serves as the main support to the whole structure. The pillars when struck give out the 7 notes from each of the instrument that they represent.
The King’s Balance – 15th century rare stone scale attracts visitors due to its structure and history. Carved from stone it forms an archway like structure. It is believed that on special occasions the King was weighed with gold and many other precious stones. These jewels were then given away to the priests of the temple.
If you look closely you will also find three loops that may have been used by the King to hang on the swing and weigh. Achyutaraya Temple – This was the last temple built before the empire fell and got defeated in the hands of Sultans.
The architecture is much advanced compared to other structures in Hampi. Located between the Matanga hills and Gandhamadana, this magnificent temple depicts Vijayanagara architecture style of temples in its best and most improved form.
Archaeological Museum in Hampi – Set up by the Archeological Survey of India the museum exhibits ancient sculptures and also many artifacts and this is where you will get a glimpse of the history of Hampi. A must visit for people in love with history; silver coins, sculptures, gold coins, precious stones and much more can be seen.
Other attractions include Hampi bazaar, Elephant stable, Lotus Palace, Queen’s bath, Monolith Bull, Matanga Hill, Zenana Enclosure, City shopping, Daroji Bear Sanctury, Big Shivlinga, Monkey temple, Lakshmi Narasimha temple etc.
Apart from history and architecture Hampi is known for its festivals both religious and cultural. They have a set of annual festivals which attracts lot of tourists. The annual schedule is made public every year and many plan their visit accordingly. The popular ones include –
Hampi Festival – Referred to as Hampi Utsav or Vijaya Utsav it is the largest and is generally scheduled in November for 3 days. Packed with music, dance, shows, fireworks etc the cultural richness of the place can be experienced.
Purandaradasa Aradhana – This is a classical musical festival held every year to commemorate the birthday of the ancient poet Purandaradasa who lived in Hampi. This 2-3 day long festival is generally scheduled in the beginning of the year.
Virupaksha Car Festival – The religious festival marks the annual ritual marriage of the god & goddess where a large procession is taken out with the image of God and goddess.
Diwali – Though not specific to Hampi, Diwali is celebrated in Hampi in a grand way.
Rock Climbing in Hampi
Also known as the bouldering capital of the country, Hampi is a delight for rock climbers. The place offers plenty of opportunities for bouldering enthusiasts. People from across the globe visit this place to experience opportunities in bouldering. A must visit destination for people who love bouldering. The practically endless trails of boulder hills give a range of options based on your level. Some of the bouldering sites include Hemakuta Hill, Matanga Hill, Tiruvengalantha Temple among others.
The toponym Hampi is derived from Pampa, another name of Goddess Parvati in Hindu theology. According to the mythology Parvati (Pampa) pursued her ascetic, yogini lifestyle on Hemakuta Hill, now a part of Hampi, to win and bring ascetic Shiva back into householder life. The river near the Hemkuta Hill came to be known as Pampa River.
Hampi has close association with Ramayana. According to the mythological epic, when Lord Rama and his brother were wandering in the forest searching for Sita who was abducted by King Ravana, they looked for Vali and Sugriv in this region. Lord Rama sought help from Sugriv to form an army of monkeys and other animals in order to rescue his wife. The Hampi area has many close resemblances to the place described in the epic. The regional tradition believes that it is that place mentioned in the Ramayana, attracting pilgrims.
How to Reach Hampi
By Air – Jindal Vijaynagar Airport, Bellary is the nearest domestic airport around 60 kms from Hampi. Cabs are easily available to reach Hampi from the airport. The nearest international airport around is 350 km away.
By Road – Hampi is well connected by bus services from all major cities and towns.
By Rail – The nearest railhead from Hampi is Hospet that is at a distance of 13 km. Hospet is well connected to major cities and towns and some of them are Bangalore, Hyderabad, Goa etc.