Introduction to Hampi
Hampi is a village in northern Karnataka, India. It was one of the richest and largest cities in the world during its prime. The name Hampi can also mean “champion”. It is located within the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. Predating the city of Vijayanagara, it continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple, as well as several other monuments belonging to the old glorious city. The ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi.
It is said that , ‘Hampi traditionally known as Pampa-kshetra, Kishkinda-kshetra or Bhaskara-kshetra is derived from Pampa, which is the old name of the Tungabhadra River on whose southern banks the city is built.
The emperor Ashoka’s minor rock edicts in Nittur & Udegolan (both in Bellary district) lead one to believe that this region was within the Ashokan kingdom during the 3rd century BCE. A Brahmi inscription & a terracotta seal dating to the 2nd century CEwere also discovered from the excavation site.
The first historical settlements in Hampi date back to 1 CE.
Immediately before the rise of the Vijaynagara kings, the region was probably in the hands of chiefs of Kampili, now a small town, 19 km east of Hampi.
Hampi has various Hindu temples .
We in a group of 5 left for Hampi by Car . From Bangalore it is approximately around 350 kms and took us around 6 hours to reach . We woke at 5am and left for Hampi , though we stopped mid way at the coffee shops for a break . The roads to Hampi is excellent so people who love to drive would love the roads and zoom .
We took the nice road highway —> Tumkur —> Chitradurga —> Hospet —-> Hampi route.
On our we we crossed the beautiful Tungabhadra Dam .
Behind is the famous Tunga Bhadra Dam . We took a 5 mins break to take pictures at this spot so were the other travellers .
After crossing Hospet , 20 mins later we reached Hampi . The police asked us to park our car at the entry since the village didn’t have space for a car . From that very spot we had to take an auto to our guest house . We had our reservation in a guest house called as The New Lakshmi Heritage Guest House which had two standard rooms with AC . Initially we thought AC wasn’t required but thank god I booked for AC . The weather was undoubtedly hot.
We freshened up to have lunch and to visit the ancient village . Stopped at this roof top hut called ” Gopi Guest House” . The manager was very helpful and explained yo us about the place . This helped us what to do when and plan accordingly since we were there for just 2 days .
We decided to cross the river to go to the other side to go to the lake . The river had to be crossed by a coracle boat . This coracle boat is a traditional round boat used to cross river in south of India and also surprisingly to the rivers of Ireland.
The side we stayed was a total vegetarian place since there were a lot of Hindu Temples on our side whereas the other side allowed alcohol and non vegetarian food . Most of the youngsters would cross and go the other side . I personally loved both sides and in few months I would totally love to stay there for a month and enjoy the ancient history .
We crossed the river and went to the lake by an auto rickshaw . Later went to a bohemian place called The Laughing Buddha and realxed .
Just like in the pictures , you could see the other side of the river from this place . It’s a beauty !! A Picturesque view !!
We ordered for some food and beer and loosened away to glory .
So , the boat ride would stop once it was dark . To go back we had leave before 7pm , so we left for our rooms . After little rest , we went for dinner in this chilled out cafe called The Chillout Cafe . It was like little goa in Hampi .
The next morning , I decided to wake up early and go for a walk and feel the place . Being a part of an ancient village is totally a different experience .
We were also told that , The Elephant from The Vripuksha Temple , goes to take bath in the river everyday morning . So were got up and dressed up early and ran to the river to take blessings from The Elephant.
Please find the above link , where the elephant was giving us his blessings . It was legendary moment .
For a while we sat by the river and observed the place.
Later we head to The Vripuksha Temple !!
The temple’s history is uninterrupted from about the 7th century. The Virupaksha-Pampa sanctuary existed well before the Vijayanagara capital was located here. Inscriptions referring to Shiva date back to the 9th and 10th centuries.What started as a small shrine grew into a large complex under the Vijaynagara rulers. Evidence indicates there were additions made to the temple in the late Chalukyan and Hoysala periods, though most of the temple buildings are attributed to the Vijayanagar period.
Under the Vijayanagara rulers, in the middle of the 14th century, there began a flowering of native art and culture. When the rulers were defeated by Muslim invaders in the 16th century, most of the wonderful decorative structures and creations were systematically destroyed.
The cult of Virupaksha-Pampa did not end with the destruction of the city in 1565. Worship there has persisted throughout the years. At the beginning of the 19th century there were major renovations and additions, which included ceiling paintings and the towers of the north and east gopura.
The next visit was to The Vijaya Vittala Temple . The Most Beautiful.
Vittala Temple is the most extravagant architectural showpiece of Hampi. No amount of words can explain this spectacle. The temple is built in the form of a sprawling campus with compound wall and gateway towers. There are many halls, pavilions and temples located inside this campus.
Vittala, after whom the temple is known, is a form of lord Vishnu. This aspect of Vishnu was worshiped in this part of the country as their cult deity by the cattle herds.
The temple was originally built in the 15th century AD. Many successive kings have enhanced the temple campus during their regimes to the present form. You can even see the remains of a township called Vittalapura that existed around this temple complex. The highlight of Vittala temple is its impressive pillared halls and the stone chariot. The halls are carved with an overwhelming array of sculptures on the giant granite pillars. The stone chariot located inside the campus is almost an iconic structure of Hampi.
You can still see the remains of the painting on the carvings of the chariot. Probably because it was relatively protected from the natural wearing elements, the undercarriage of the chariot spots one of the best preserved specimens of this kind of paintings. It is believed the whole of the Vittala Temple’s sculptures were once beautifully painted in similar fashion using the minerals as medium.
All these pictures were clicked by my Ipad .
You can see the beautiful Vittala Temple !! Couldn’t stop bragging about this Ancient place.
We left for Bangalore and on the way we decided to see The King’s Throne and The Queen’s Bath .
The Kings Throne
The kings throne was basically the kings court were all the kingdom members and the ministers would work on the law and order . The court was extremely beautiful and gigantic.
Above was just the throne of The King so you can imagine how big the court was .
On our way we crossed the Queen’s Bath where the queen would come to take bath and get dressed .
There were a lot more monuments that we missed in this trip . But I am hoping to come back soon and go back to the ancient history and see the rest of Hampi .
Image Courtesy – Anusha K (thesmalltownblogger)
9 thoughts on “Hampi – The Forgotten Empire (India)”
Nicely done Anusha!great pics and interesting description. And of course this really helps since I’m in Hampi and will make it a point to visit places mentioned 🙂
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I have a heard a lot about Hampi and your post encourages me to plan a trip soon. It seems, you guys had lot of fun !
Yes yes. Totally. Its a Beautiful place. Actually Beautiful is also an understatement.
Hampi is a beautiful place and I should say one of the must visit places in India !
Hampi is a critical journey community for the Hindus, the same number of legends from Ramayana are related with this place.
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