Also known as Humpi or Hampe, Hampi is a small village situated in Northern Karnataka. It was the capital of the Hindu empire, Vijayanagara, who ruled south India from 14th to 16th century AD. With the help of his devotee disciples Hakka and Bukka, Saint Vidyaranya established the base of Vijayanagara Empire in 1336 AD. It gained popularity because of its re-establishment of Indian culture and its support for music, art and literature. They also encouraged the renovation and reconstruction of temples throughout India. With their main focus being on caring for the people and their welfare, this empire soon spread from Karnataka to Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra as well.
The name Hampi itself is derived from Pampa, which is the old name of the Tungabhadra River on whose banks the city was built. The destruction of the Empire by the Mughal invaders reduced this beautiful city to ruins.
Even then these ruins are filled with museums, markets, temples and plenty of other ancient monuments. It is both a historic as well as religious place in India and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Spread over an area of about 25 square kilometers, amidst giant boulders and vegetation, Hampi boasts of past riches, grandeur and wealth. It is packed with places to see.
First and foremost is the Vittala Temple Complex, the most magnificent monument of Hampi. It is dedicated to Vittla, a form of the Hindi God Vishnu. The temple contains many halls and shrines, the former known for its beautiful pillars with animated carvings on it. It also contains ‘musical pillars’, a set of pillars that resonate when tapped. It also houses the great stone chariot which has stone wheels that actually revolve.
Next is the Virupaksha temple, one of the oldest active temples which dates back to 7th century AD. It is dedicated to the Hindi God of destruction and is located at a riverbank.
The hampi bazaar is a sight that is not to be missed. It is 35 yards wide and nearly 800 yards long and is lined with beautiful houses. Moreover, there is also the King’s Balance where kings were weighted against grain, gold or money which was then distributed to the poor.
There’s also Royal enclosure, Hemakuta hill temples, queen’s bath…the list of monuments is endless. The best time to visit this historical place is between October and March.