Hospet welcomed us with a beautiful view of the sunset. The image of the sun setting on the west side of the dam on the Tungabhadra River spreads across the sky and water. No painter has ever created a work with such intensity. We drove more than 600 km from Coimbatore and were really intoxicated by the Tungabhadra River, the dam and the abyss. History was boring to me in small classes. I only had a few things that I had memorized without realizing it. I don’t know if it was when I was an adult or when I started to love traveling, history fascinated me. Thus the history of the Vijayanagara Empire settled in my mind and I longed to see the great wonder of Hampi first hand.
Vijayanagar was a wealthy empire established on the Deccan Plateau by Harihara I and Bukhara I, the rulers and brothers of the Sangam Empire. Founded in 1336, the empire lasted until 1646, but declined economically and militarily after the war of 1565. Once a prosperous city, Hampi is now a ruined village. Anyone who has seen the ruins of the place can no doubt imagine its ancient glory. Vijayanagar had its own style of architecture. The construction is the same. Many temples in South India were later built in the Vijayanagara style of architecture. The rulers of this empire placed great emphasis not only on culture and language, but also on music. The empire can be said to have played a major role in the formation of Carnatic music in its present form.
We stayed in Hospet for the night and the next day we boarded a small Karnataka Tourism bus to Hampi. The vehicle had a driver and a guide. The fact that he was not very skilled at work made us occasionally have problems. He could not answer many questions accurately. That day we realized the importance of a good guide when visiting historical sites.
Hampi covers an area of about 26 square kilometers. It takes days to fully visit Hampi. There are many people who stay in Hampi for months. Especially historians. Bicycles are the main attraction of this place. It is also available here for a daily rent of Rs 150. There are also people visiting Hampi on motorcycles and autorickshaws. Autorickshaws will cost at least Rs 1,000 for eight hours. The views are on both sides of the Tungabhadra River. The Hanuman Temple and the former capital Anagudi are located on the other side. Here are just a few of the highlights of Hampi. At the very least, visitors to Hampi must have seen at least one of these.
Vithala Temple Complex – This temple complex is located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in the northeastern part of the ruined Hampi. This wonder for Lord Vishnu was built by Devaraya II between 1422 and 1466. The main attraction of the temple is the huge chariot made of stone. There are three major stone carvings in India. The other two places are Konark and Mahabalipuram. The Maha Mandapam is another attraction of this stone temple. Carved in granite, the hall has four rooms. Here are the saptasvara pillars known as sarigama pillars. The reason for this name is that it has syllables when tapped.
Virupaksha Temple – This is a Shiva temple built by Devaraya II himself. Virupaksha is another form of Shiva. This great temple is located on the banks of the river Tungabhadra. History has it that this huge temple was built from a small temple. This may be the reason why it continues to be a place of worship. A hall with innumerable pillars is used for prayer. Built in the 7th century, this temple is probably the oldest temple in India.
Lotus Mahal – Also known as Kamal Mahal and Chitrakani Mahal, this two storied building is in the shape of a lotus. The surrounding twenty-four pillars play an important role in its design. All these pillars depict sea creatures and birds. It is also the place where Krishna Devaraya’s wife lived a good part of her life.
Elephant Fort – This is one of the few buildings that was not destroyed during the Mughal invasion. There are eleven domes, including the main canopy. The main dome is in the Indian style and the other ten are in the Mughal style.
Hazara Ramaswamy Temple – This is a beautiful small temple used by the Vijayanagara royal family. It also has the feature of having the story of Ramayana engraved on the wall.
Ugra Narasimha Statue – Goddess Lakshmi was removed from this giant statue which was destroyed during the Mughal invasion. The earliest statue was of Narasimha seated on the lap of the Goddess. The damaged statue of Lakshmi is now in the Archaeological Museum at Kamalapuram.
Queen’s Bath – Not only is it a five hundred year old bathhouse or a place where queens used to bathe. The beauty of this fort-like structure still attracts our attention today.
Ottakkal Nandhi – This lonely bull is located at the eastern end of the market. The Virupaksha Shiva Temple is located on the opposite side of the street from where it is located.
Vijaya Vithala Temple – This temple is a masterpiece of architecture. This famous temple is probably the largest in Hampi. Situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra, this temple is unforgettable with its musical pillars and stone chariots.
Hampi Monuments – The Old Pampak Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known as the Group of Monuments of Hampi. It must have been built between AD 1336 and 1570. It is a complex of temples.
Archaeological Museum – There is also an Archaeological Museum here which is functioning under the Archaeological Survey of India.
Underground Shiva Temple – Prasanna Virupaksha Temple is one of the oldest temples in Hampi. Today, this underground Shiva temple is one of the major attractions of Hampi.
That being said, this is not the only Hampi to be considered. I have only mentioned some particularly significant historical relics here. Countless historical wonders await historians and visitors alike.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Nearest railway station: Hospet