Hampi the 14th century capital city of the Vijayanagara Empire lies in the Deccan heartland, in the state of Karnataka. Hampi is situated at 74 kms from the city Bellary and 13 km from Hospet city in Karnataka. The ruins of Vijayanagar Empire in and around the village of Hampi are spread over an area of more than 26 sq kms. They are one of the most fascinating historical sites in Southern India. The best time to visit Hampi is from October to March.
It is a thriving traveler's center. The area of Hampi is protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and by rocky granite stones on other three sides. There is a magical quality to the ruins of Hampi even 650 years after the empire of Krishna - devaraya disintegrated.
Hampi is famous for its ruins belonging to the erstwhile medieval Hindu kingdom of Vijaynagar and it is declared a World Heritage site. The monolithic sculptures and monuments along the temples are attractive because of their excellent workmanship. The architecture found at Hampi reflects the Hindu culture and splendor of the Vijaynagar Empire. The rugged landscape adds to the historic ambience of this site.
Places of interest in Hampi are Virupaksha temple with its 50m high gopuram, Hemakunta Hill with ruins of Jain temples and a monolithic Sculpture of Narasimha, Vittala Temple, Sule Bazar, Achutaraya Temple, Purandaradasa Mandapa, Royal Center that has Lotus Mahal, the queen's bath and Elephant stables etc.
Vithala Temple :
The Vithala temple, which is also known as the most splendid monument of Hampi is situated on the Southern bank of the Tungabhadra River. It is a world heritage monument dating back to the 15th century and is known for its extensive sculptured work, ornate pillars and the carvings that decorate them. Built during the rule of King Devaraya(II), it shows the high perfection of the Vijayanagara style.
The temple is built out of hard granite around an area of 500 by 300 feet. It has 56 pillars in the main hall, which produce musical notes when struck. In the courtyard is the life-size chariot carved out of granite with actually revolving wheels. The temple is famous for its beautifully carved gopurams and mandapas.
Vithala Temple Pillar (left) and Stone Chariot
Some of the inner pillars in the Mandapa contain figures of women dancers and drummers and beautiful multi-petalled lotus carvings. This is one of the most ornate Vijaynagar temples built over a period of time. Here tapping certain stone pillars produces harmonics that can only be described as ethereal, and it's something that's quite impossible to imaging until you hear a tune being tapped out on a stone carving of a drum.
The stone chariot in this temple is very famous. Its stone wheels, each shaped in the form of a lotus, are capable of revolving. Temple chariots are often mobile reproductions of a temple. The stone chariot here is in turn a static version of the mobile temple chariot.
Virupaksha Temple :
The Virupaksha or the Pampapathi temple is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi.
This temple is in ruins but is still in worship and is dedicated to Lord Shiva, known here as Virupaksha or Pampapati, as his wife Pampa is associated with Tungabhadra River(daughter of Lord Brahma). It is situated in picturesque surroundings on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra river to the north of Hemkuta hill.
The temple has a 50 m tall, elaborately carved gateway and has been renovated in 1510 by Krishnadeva Raya. The temple has several mandaps and murals(statues). The eastern gateway is a marvel of engineering skill. The hall leading to the sanctorum has finely carved columns of animals and the ceiling is painted with scenes from mythology.
Huge pillared halls are the special and distinctive feature of this temple. Parts of the temple date back to the 6th century and the festival of Vijaynagar organised by the government of Karnataka is worth seeing.