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.