Thursday, April 18, 2024

Tourism      Monuments      Rock Marvels      Karnataka     Bellary    


Place : Bellary District, Karnataka
Significance : A UNESCO World Heritage site
Best Season : October to February
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The magnificent ruined city of Hampi is a tiny village in northern Karnataka state. Located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara empire (One of the greatest empires in the history of India), Hampi is 353 kilometers from Bangalore, situated on the south bank of the the Tungabhadra River, 13 km northeast of Hospet. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is one of the major historical places of South India.

According to Hindu mythology, Hampi finds mention in the epic Ramayana as Kishkinda, the kingdom of Bali and Sugriva (the monkeykings). Constructed by Harihara and Ukka in 1336, the city was a great centre of Hindu rule for 200 years from its foundation.  The city was wealthy, greater than Rome, with a market full of jewels and palaces plated with gold, having held a monopoly of trade in spices and cotton, bejeweled courtesans and joyous festivities. However, with the defeat in 1565 at Talikota at the hands of the Deccan Sultans, the dazzling city was largely destroyed. Now the city has ruins of stone temples, elephant stables, barracks and palaces. The ruins of Hampi lies scattered in about 26 sq. km area, amidst golden brown granite boulders and vegetation.

 The city is also the home of Pampakshetra - home of Pampa, the daughter of Lord Brahma and wedded to Shiva.

Hampi comes alive during the three-day Music and Cultural extravaganza, held in the first week of November. Organized by the Government of Karnataka, the Hampi festival includes Dance, drama, music, fireworks, puppet shows, spectacular processions. Eminent artistes from all over the country reaches at this festival and enthrall the audience who also come from different parts of the country to witness the gala event.

The temples here are noted for their large dimensions, florid ornamentation, bold and delicate carvings, stately pillars, magnificent pavilions. Most of them are built in early 16th century, during the reign of the great Vijayanagar ruler, Krishna Deva Raya (1509 -1529). Hampi holds many delightful surprises and every rock here is worth a visit. The most famous is the King's Balance where kings were weighed against gold or money which was distributed to the poor. Also worth a visit in Hampi are the Queen's Bath, the two storeyed Lotus Mahal, the huge Elephant Stables, the splendid Vitthal Temple with its musical pillars, the Virupaksha Temple etc and it takes three days or ten days, depending on one's time and love for history.

The area Hampi can be divided into two parts - the Sacred Center and the Royal Center. Scared Center encloses religious sites and the Royal Center encloses the royal buildings. 

The Royal Center consists Lotus Mahal or Zanana Enclosure and the Elephant Stables. Royal Enclosure also comprises some of the Hampi temples - one being an underground temple, and the secretly constructed Queen's Bath.

Virupaksha temple (Sri Viupaksha Swami Temple)

Virupaksha temple is located at the south of the Ganesha images, at the foot of the hill called Hemakuta Hill. Often called Pampapathi temple it is one of the earliest structures in the city. The temple was once a small shrine, developed into a large complex under the Vijayanagara rulers.

The complex consists of a Sanctum, three ante chambers, a pillared hall and a Mukha Mantapa also called Ranga Mantapa. A pillared cloister, entrance gateways, courtyards, attendant shrines and other mandapas surround the temple. The main shrine is dedicated to Virupaksha, a form of Lord Siva. The 56 m high 9-storey main gopuram is thought to have been built in 1442. The second, smaller gopuram was added in 1510 by Krishnadevaraya on the occasion of a festival in honour of his coronation. 

The main temple is approached through Ranga Mandapa. The Ranga mandapa itself consists of 38 pillars and are divided into two vertical sections - the first is cut to resemble a Yali (a mythical lion), standing on a Makara (a mythical creature) , while the second section is basically square with small relief, depicting mostly Shaiva themes. The interior is defined by 16 carved columns features rearing animals and riders. The composition is divided into two pairs of matching panels, showing the marriage of Rama and Sita (front) and that of Shiva and Parvati (end), both these standing with trees in the background. At the east end of the hall is a long panel depicting a procession. The enclosed hall beyond, entered through side porches, leads to the linga sanctuary. South of Virupaksha Temple is a temple housing a massive Shiva lingam situated in a pool of water. Carved from a single rock, it is adjacent to a monolithic statue of Narasimha, the main lion avatar of Vishnu. Although partially damaged, it is considered as one of the finest sculptures at Hampi. 

Entry to the temple is free every day from 6.30am - 8am and 6.30pm- 8pm.

Elephant Stables

Situated near to Lotus Mahal, it is a dome shaped building with high ceilings built as the resting places for the royal elephants. Total eleven stables, out of which, the central stable is big which has an upper level with a pillared hall. The central stable was supposed to be for the musicians who accompanied the royal elephants during celebrations. A beautiful example of Hindu-Muslim style of architecture, it is entered through arches. 

Bhuvaneshwari Temple

Famous for its marvelously worked door-frame, pillars and artistic ceiling panels, this temple is small dedicated to Goddess Bhuvaneshwari. However, it was rebuilt in the Vijayanagara days, over an 11th century temple.

Hemakuta Hill

This hill contains some of the earliest structures, some of them date from between the ninth and eleventh centuries. Most of the temples are Jain. One can view from the hill over Hampi Bazaar. According to mythology, Lord Shiva did penance on the Hemakuta Hill before he married his consort Parvati. This was also the place where Lord Shiva burnt Kam (the God of lust). On the south side of the hill, next to the road leading to the bazaar, is small Ganesha temple house Ganesha statues. To the right of the Narasimha figure is a small square shrine which houses a huge Shiva Lingam. Sree Gayathri Peetha Maha Samsthana, a religious organization is located on this hill.

Statues of Lord Ganesha

There are 2 statues. The first is called Sasive Kalu Ganesha (Mustard Seed Ganesha). The 2.5 meters tall impressive statue is fashioned out of a boulder in sitting position. The second is almost twice the height of the Sasive Kalu Ganesha called Kadale Kalu Ganesha (Gramseed Ganesha). Sculpted out of a single boulder, it is ruined but is provided with a Sanctum and an open pillared mantapa. This art work was carved during the reign of Krishnadevaraya. 

Virupaksha Bazaar 

The crowded, Virupaksha Bazaar or market which stretches 750m east from the Virupaksha Temple is the largest of the many bazaars of Hampi. At the far eastern end of the road is a pavilion containing a monolithic Nandi statue (Shiva's bull) gazes far from its shrine. Nearby is a small photo gallery which display contrast pictures taken in 1896 with shots taken from exactly the same positions in 1983. 

This bazaar is flanked by the 9 storied main gopura of Virupaksha temple called Bishtappa's gopura. The 53 meters high gopura adds elegance to the Virupaksha Bazaar.

Kodandarama Temple

Situated at the east end of the Virupaksha Bazaar is the Kodandarama Temple. The temple is famous for its 15 feet in heigh carvings of the Sri Rama, Sita and Lakshmana on a large boulder. This temple faces Chakra Thirtha, an auspicious bathing spot at a bend in the river, marks the place where Lakshmana, Rama's brother crowned Sugriva. 

Nearby to this, is a temple for Sudarshana and Hanuman which have more religious importance than architectural significance. 

Achyutaraya Temple

This temple can be reached through the southern end of the Sule Bazaar. The temple has an isolated location at the foot of Matanga Hill. Achyutaraya Temple has a large complex contains beautiful stone carvings - among them some of Hampi's famed erotica are being restored by the Archaeological Survey of India.

Matanga Hill

From here one can get the breathtaking view of the Hampi landscape.

Mahanavami Dibba 

It is huge structure in Hampi, built by King Krishnadevaraya to commemorate the victory over Udaygiri (now in Orissa). It is said that king used this to observe the royal processions, sports, musical programs and Navarathri celebrations. It is a three layere square structure and there are two stairways to reach the top. Each one is highly decorated with animals carvings. From the top one can see the vast vie on the campus around it. Entry is free. Opening time Sunrise to Sunset. 

Old palace

Also known as Gagan Mahal, it is small old palace and might be served as the center of Anegondi kingdom . Located in an erstwhile capital city Anegondi near Hampi, it is surrounded with a big fort. Now it is partially ruined. 

Queen's Bath

Supposedly used by royal women for Royal bathing, it is located in Royal enclosure. Even though it is a plain rectangular building from outside, when one get inside, it's structure is different. It is an Indo -Saracenic architecture building, with a long veranda inside facing a square tank of 6 feet depth from all sides.

It's believed that fragrant flowers and perfumed water filled this bathing pool. Now there is small garden is in front of this. Entry is Free. Photography is not allowed.

Vithala Temple

Built during the rule of Krishnadevaraya, this is one of the famous impressive monument at Hampi. Located in the southern bank of the Tungabhadra river, it is known for its extensive art work. The temple is carved out of a granite area measuring three-hundred by five-hundred feet in area. Figures have been tastefully carved out of granite rock in the temple. It has fifty-six pillars in the main hall, which produce various sounds when tapped and are called as musical pillars. The Vithala temple also houses a striking rock chariot that carries the mythical bird, the Garuda. The temple is the venure of the Purundaradasa festival held every year.

Balakrishna Temple

Situated between the Ganesh statue and the statue of Narasimha are the remains of Krishna Temple complex dates from 1513. It features some fine carving and shrines. Entrance to the temple is via a massive gateway. Built by Krishnadevaraya to commemorate his victory over the ruler of Orissa, the temple possesses a sanctum, an antechamber, an ardha mantapa, a circumambulatory path, a pillared hall, and an open pillared mantapa and a number of other shrines. 

Underground Temple

Also known as Prasanna Virupaksha, this temple lies below ground level and is filled with rainwater spends for part of the year. Built during the Sangam rule, it is dedicated to Lord Prasanna Virupaksha (Lord Shiva). This ruined temple is fairly large with a few Mantapas and the pillared cloister. Inside, the Kalyanamantapa is ornate and was built during the l5th century.

The Zanana Enclosure (the women's quarters)

Enclosed with a tall and broad walls made out of cut stones arranged in interesting pattern, the Zanana enclosure is made into a sort of open garden with sprawling lawns. It was a private area reserved for the royal women. It is said that the queen and king's companions lived here. There are four significant structures inside the enclosure; the largest is Queen's Palace, now in a ruined state. The Queen’s Palace basement measuring about 46 x 29 meters has been the largest palace base excavated in the Hampi ruins so far. Opposite to this, across the central path, at the east lie the remains of a water pavilion. At the corners of the enclosed area, three watch towers can be seen. 

Lotus Mahal a beautiful monument located at the southeast corner, is supposed to be the Zenana Enclosure. It is a two-storied arched pavilion looks like a lotus and is assumed to be the meeting place for the royal women folks. Its architecture shows a display of Indian and Islamic influences.The royal Treasury building was located in the Zanana Enclosure. 

The Archaeological Museum

It is at the southern part of the ruins, Kamalapuram. Visit : Saturday to Thursday, 10 - 5. Entry - free. It exhibits many of the weapons, paintings, sculpture, coins and cooking utensils found at Hampi and some statues collected from the Shiva and Vishnu temples.