Hampi is situated in the district of Bellary in the state of Karnataka
, South India. The name Hampi comes from Pampa, the ancient name for the River Tungabhadra that flows through the city. The capital of the Vijayanagara
dynasty, Hampi was also known as ‘Vijayanagara’ - the Town of Victory. The Vijayanagara
kings were strong rulers during whose reign there was a great flowering of creativity in the fields of architecture, literature, arts etc. The golden age of the dynasty was in the early 16th
century during the reign of Krishnadevaraya. But the might of the Vijayanagara kings was crushed by the Deccan sultans in 1565 at Talikota. The archeological sites strewn across the right bank of the Tungabhadra River speak eloquently of the glorious legacy they have left behind.
Hampi, recognised as part of world heritage, is an integral part of any travel plan. The Hampi village is just a few kilometers away from the city of ruins. There are more than 500 monuments reflecting the past magnificence of the Vijayanagara
Empire. The most famous temple in Hampi is the Virupaksha temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Pampa or Bhuvaneshwari, located in the foothills of Hemakutta. There are also a few Jain temples dotting the landscape. Another fascinating architectural wonder is the Vithala temple complex, which is a living monument to the skill and artistry of the artisans of Vijayanagara Empire. This temple is famous for its Musical Pillars which emit musical notes when tapped. Another remarkable work of art is the huge temple chariot made of stone with revolving wheels. Nearby are the Purandra Dasara Mantapa and the famed 5 metre high King’s Balance, located near the Vithala temple.
Other places of worship and architectural interest are the Raghunatha.
Temple built in Dravidian style on the top of a hill, Sugriva’s Cave where Goddess Sita is believed to have dropped her jewels when she was kidnapped by Ravana.
The Royal enclosure is at the centre of the ancient city with a Hazar Rama Temple with the entire Ramayana
epic carved in stone. The Lotus Mahal in the Zenana or the Ladies Quarter, an Elephant Quarter, a dome shaped building where the royal elephants are housed and an exotic Queen’s Bath carved in the shape of a lotus are all stunningly beautiful and well preserved. Nearby there is an Underground Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Archeological Museum has a rich collection of sculptures, idols, artifacts, tools, armory, coins etc unearthed from the ancient empire.
To the north of Hampi Bazaar, which is a must-visit spot for travelers, on the other side of the River Tungabhadra, is Anegondi, said to have been the capital before Hampi superceded it.
A short travel of 13 kms from Hampi takes one to the popular tourist centre, Hospet. Situated 7 kms from Hospet, the Tungabhadra Dam, built across the Tungabhadra River, rises to a height of 49 m and 500m long, With its Japanese style gardens and a horticultural farm, its is an attractive picnic spot.