Hampi is a northern Karnataka village in India which is world famous as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hampi was one of the largest and richest city in the world during its prime time and was the imperial capital of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, Hampi continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple and several other monuments belonging to the old city. The empire boasted a massive army comprising close to a million men. In around 1500 AD Vijaynagar had about 500,000 inhabitants making it the second largest city in the world after Peking-Beijing and almost thrice the size of Paris. Hampi ruins are spread out over an area of 26km. Hampi hosts the Hampi Utsav every year around first week of November. It is a visual delight as all the monuments/ruins are lit at night and it is a cultural extravaganza of dance and music. There are many sites of interest in and around Hampi. The must-visits are Virupaksha Temple, Hampi Bazaar, Monolith Bull, Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Hemakuta Hill temples, Big Shivlinga, Vithala Temple (the famous Stone Chariot is located here), Hazara Rama Temple, Royal Enclosures, Queen’s Bath, Zanana Enclosure, Elephant Stables, Achyut Raya temple, Statue of Lakshmi Narasimha, etc.
This is the largest Linga in Hampi. Located next to the Lakshmi Narasimha statue the Linga is housed inside a chamber with an opening in the front. A close look on this icon can reveal three eyes (depicting the three eyes of Shiva) carved on it. Legend has it that this was commissioned by a peasant woman and hence the name (Badva means poor in local tongue).
Virupaksha temple is the oldest and the principal temple in Hampi. This Lord Shiva temple is easily one of the oldest functioning temple in India and is located on the south bank of the river Tungabadra. You access the temples main entrance tower through the chariot street. This east facing giant tower (Gopura) leads you the first courtyard of the temple complex.
Hampi which is located near Hospet town in the Karnataka state is charismatic even in its current ruined state. Hampi attracts thousands of visitors every year to its vast stretches of boulder-strewn hills dotted with 500 plus monuments. Among the ruins are beautiful temples, palaces, remains of aquatic structures, ancient market streets, royal pavilions, bastions, royal platforms, and treasury buildings.
‘Hampi traditionally known as Pampa-kshetra, Kishkindha-kshetra or Bhaskara-kshetra is derived from the name, Pampa, which is the old name of the Tungabhadra River on whose southern banks of the city is built. Over the years, it has also been referred to as Vijayanagara and Virupakshapura (from Virupaksha, the patron deity of the Vijayanagara rulers). The city of Vijayanagara was originally encompassed by seven lines of fortifications. These fortifications had a large number of bastions and gateways. The seventh & the innermost fortification enclosed the main city and is the best preserved. The extant monuments of Vijayanagara or Hampi can be divided into Religious, Civil & Military buildings The Jain temples on Hemakuta hill, the two Devi shrines & some other structures in the Virupaksha temple complex predate the Vijayanagara Empire. The earliest amongst them, the Shiva shrines with their stepped pyramidalvimanas or superstructures, date to the early Chalukyan period around ninth-tenth century AD.
To visit Hampi, we drove from Mumbai and went onwards to Virajpet, and back:
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