Bygone era of magnificent Vijayanagara empire - Hampi

Hampi is a historical site scattered with ruins and excavation. It has been described by UNESCO as an "austere, grandiose site" of more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India that includes "forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures, water structures, and others".

As the capital of the Hindu kingdom of Vijanaagra, which reached its zenith between 1509-1529, Hampi was a beautiful city in its prime and probably India's richest at that time. It vanished in a war with five rival kingdoms in 1565 when the entire city was ransacked and destroyed completely.

Now temples, statues, ruins, and massive boulders sprawl as far as the eye can see. I was in Hampi for two days and I can tell you two days is simply not enough to explore Hampi. Though I was able to cover some major landmarks and tourist attractions.

Virupaksha Temple
Our guest house was near Virupaksha temple and from the balcony and terrace, you can always get a glimpse of one of the oldest and sacred temples in Hampi. While exploring the city I realized its gopuram (entry gate) can be seen from various sites.

Originally a small shrine later expanded into the vast complex. The entire temple complex is within a long rectangular enclosure divided into two courts with tower gateways (Gopuram). The main sanctum (garbhgriha) houses Shivalinga known as Virupaksha. Don't forget to see ceiling paintings in the ranga mandapa.

Monolithic Nandi & Hampi Bazar
A spacious 750 meters long and 35-meter wide market (bazaar) is situated to the east of Virupaksha temple running up to the foot of the Matanga hill. You can see two-storied pillared mandapa and a massive monolithic bull facing Virupaksha temple.


Vitthala Temple
This is one of the most important temples found at Hampi. as it represents the finest art and workmanship of architecture of the Vijayanagara empire. Vitthala is the Krishna aspect of Lord Vishnu.
Apart from the main shrine, this massive temple complex houses Devi shrine, Kalyana mandapa, Utsav mandapa, a hundred pillared mandapa, and much famed, iconic stone chariot.

Sabha Mantapa (Congregation Hall) is massive, hewn out of single granite blocks that are designed as clusters of slender pillars. Some of these when tapped gently produce musical notes.

Stone chariot a reproduction of processional wooden chariots is perhaps the most stunning achievement. It houses an image of Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu.

Outside the temple, to the east is a huge Bazar, measuring 945 meters in length leading to a sacred tank known as lokapavani


King's Balance
Continuing to the same path towards Vitthala temple is a huge stone balance, a structure meant for weighing the king against precious gems and metal during an occasion like birthdays or festival days and is gifted to the temple of the people, which is known as tulapurusha dana. The balance consists of two carved granite pillars that support a cross beam that has sikhara like structure in the middle.

Narasimha Shrine
The huge monolithic sculpture of Lakshmi Narasimha is another outstanding work of sculpture art of Vijayanagar. The 6.7-meter sculpture was hewn out of a massive boulder. The statute of Lakshmi Narasimha is shown seated on the coil of Sesha in padmasana. The image of Lakshmi, seated over the left lap of the deity is mutilated. Only the left-arm of Lakshmi is seen embracing the deity. There is a large seven hooded Naga (Serpent) on which deity is seated. The hood is shown above the head of the deity.

Badavi Linga (Large Shivalinga)
Next to Narasimha is an interesting shrine with a large monolithic Shiva linga of nearly 3 meters in height. The lower part of linga remains in the water.

Achyutaraya Temple
At the foothill of Mantaga hill, the magnificent Achyutaraya temple and Bazar was built in 1534. Temple is unusual, as its facing north. It is within a double enclosure wall has a spacious courtyard fronted by the wide and long bazaar. The temple and the market street are ruined but their layout suggests it was a major market with streets provided for chariot traffic

Lotus Mahal
An important secular structure at Hampi is a good example of Indo-Islamic style of architecture. its two-storied structure built in rubble masonry and finely plastered

Elephants Stable
The elephant's stable is represented by a homogenous group of chambers with a high arched facade with a loft dommed roof. Eleven chambers are built side by side. The central chamber has a passage with steps leading to the roof of the structure.

Hazara Ram Temple
This temple complex is well known for its thousands of carvings and inscriptions, dedicated to Rama, an avatar of Vishnu. It was the ceremonial temple for the royal family. The temple's outer walls portray the festival procession and celebrations in parallel bands of artwork. The lowest band shows marching elephants, above it, are horses led by horsemen, then soldiers celebrated by the public, then dancers and musicians. The inner walls of the temple have an extensive narration of the Hindu epic Ramayana.

Hemakuta Hill & Group of temples
Hemakuta hill consists of a medieval pathway towards the Krishna temple that leads to a group of other temples. On a hill, about 30 temples of varying sizes and shapes are built.

Mahanavami Dibba
The structure is named Mahanavami Dibba owing to its usage during the Vijayanagara period and this structure was hidden underneath a mound (Dibba). The excavation in this area has revealed many secular structures. Its elevated platform, where the King used to sit and watch festivities during the ten days of long Dasara festival. Different cultural functions were held in front of this platform.


And many more...
Did I miss any other monuments, temples, structures, or ruins? Yes!! there are so many and as I said before two days are not enough.

Don't miss
Coracle ride or boat ride to the other side of Hampi after crossing the Tungabhadra river and explore Hippie island.

Don't forget to eat at the various tented restaurant there. Some with serene river views usual cushioned seating well decorated with wall paintings and lantern lighting.

Watching the sunset from either Hemkuta or Matunga hill is a really great experience.


And to explore the Hampi and its monuments, cycling is the best option

Visit these monuments of Hampi makes one remember and ponder over the bygone era of Vijayanagara. The empire lasted for little over two centuries and perished but still survives with splendor in the minds of visitors. Just looking into all these temples, its architecture, ruins of the palace, bazaar you can imagine how rich, organized, and cultured this place was. If you love architecture then visiting Hampi can be one of the lifetime experience.

Hope this blog and pictures (all from mobile!!! excuse me as it lacks detail) inspire you to choose Hampi as your next tourist destination.

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