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Hampi India

Hampi - The Destination


Have you ever wanted to be part of an adventure complete with a lost city, hidden treasure, crumbling temples and yelling monkeys? Well, here is your chance. Hampi, the former capital of the fabulously rich Vijayanagar empire is probably the closest you will get to the real adventure experience. The majestic ruins of the last great Hindu empire lie scattered among the hills and on the banks of the snaking Tunga Bhadra river. Although centuries of plunder have reduced the once flourishing civilisation to a degenerating granite skeleton, the place has lost none of its aura of power and beauty.

Once a frolicking empire, rich in wealth, art, skill and intelligence, it is today a World Heritage Site. On entering Hampi, one instantly comes to the main street, which was once the popular Hampi Bazaar and today is flanked on both sides by tiny establishments offering all kinds of cuisine right from Punjabi to Israeli, not to mention a similar diversity in curios. Modern Hampi begins and ends on this street. On the western end of the street, the Virupaksha Temple (dedicated to Shiva) rises majestically, towering over the rest of the town. However, it is the magnificent Vithala Temple complex that is totally mesmerising. Complete with intricate sculpturing on its inner and outer façade, its numerous pillars in the main hall produce musical notes when struck. It is no longer allowed to test these out, although you can tap on the adjoining pillars.

To the east of the hall stands the famed stone chariot with stone wheels that actually revolve, all carved out of a solitary stone. Recently unearthed, a pond lies amidst the ruins and completely captivates one with its elaborate internal planning and mathematical pattern of the steps leading all the way to the bottom. Near the Achyutaraya Temple is the 6.7 mts tall monolith of Ugra Narasimha seated proudly under the protection of a seven-hooded snake - a fantastic specimen of Vijaynagara sculpture. By its side, lies an enormous Shivalinga carved out of a single piece of rock. Then of course, there are the wonderful treasures that one keeps discovering like the King's balance where kings were weighed against grain, gold or money later distributed to the poor. Or the Queens bath with it's arched corridors, protecting balconies and fountains in the shape of a lotus. Or the spacious and immense elephant stables with their arched entrances and domes.

If time is not a problem, then skip to the other side of the river in those delightful coracles and spend time wandering around the fortress town of Anegondi with its own share of gems like the Ranganatha Temple, the Hanuman temple, the ancient stone bridge.

The Government of Karnataka today organizes a Vijaynagar Festival in the month of December, where the whole atmosphere is charged with dance, drama and music…all working towards the recreation of the splendor of a bygone era.

Hampi - Facts at a Glance

State : Karnataka
Area : 26 sq. km.
Temperature : 37°C - 4°C (Summers)
24°C - 27°C (Winters)
Altitude : 1547 mts
Language : Kannada, English
Best Season : October-March
History of Hampi

The first settlement in Hampi dates back to the 1st century AD and a number of Buddhist sites belonging to that time have been found nearby. Hampi was the capital of the mighty Vijaynagar Empire. Vijaynagar was one of the largest Hindu empires in India founded by two brothers, Harihar and Bukka in 1336. Krishnadevaraya (1509-1529) was the greatest ruler and controlled almost all of peninsular India south of Tungabhadra River. The town of Hampi in the 14th century had a population of half a million people. Seven concentric lines of fortifications protected the city. It maintained a huge army to protect it from other kingdoms. Vijaynagar Empire flourished, as it controlled both cotton and spice trade routes of southern India. Medieval historians refer to Hampi as an important center of trade. However, the glory of Vijaynagar was short lived. With the death of Krishnadevaraya, the combined armies of the five Muslim kingdoms-Bidar, Bijapur, Golconda, Ahmednagar and Berar-destroyed this mighty empire in 1565.
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