All gods reside in one place, and all the places belong to one god. Hampi, located in Karnataka is a classic example of this. Hampi was the capital of India’s one of the largest empires ‘The Vijayanagara Empire’ in the 14th century. It was a prosperous city along the mighty Tungabhadra River. By 1500 CE Hampi- Vijayanagara, after Beijing, became world’s second largest city to be built. Hampi has several monuments and temples; also it has mosques and Jain Shrines thus proving the earlier statement. The place was under Hindu Rulers and Muslim Sultans and also influenced by Portuguese missionaries
Hampi today is recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hampi, also known as Hospet city, spreads over 4,100 hectares. UNESCO describes it as "austere, grandiose site", with more than 1600 surviving remains of Vijayanagara Empire. It also has evidence of Ashokan epigraphy and it is mentioned in the Ramayana hand the Puranas.
The ruins and remains of Hampi have been preserved in-situ (where they were), instead of some closed museum, making it an open museum in itself. There is too much to explore in here. Plans to visit various places can be made as one is comfortable and not much of preplanning is required when one is in Hampi. In its remains it has preserved ethnicities, cultures, lifestyles, beliefs and faiths.
WHAT TO SEE
Places to Visit
The main site at Hampi is the Chariot Temple, also known as Vithhala Temple. Known for its sophisticated architectural design, it houses the idol of Vithhala, a form of Lord Vishnu, otherwise known as Vithoba. The entry to the temple is in east and the area is of the complex is 3 kms. It has a Garuda shrine built in the form of a chariot, which is seen as a symbol of Hampi, hence giving it the name.
South west of Vithhala Temple is the Virupaksha temple, an active Hindu worship temple. It houses the idols of Shiva, Durga and Pampa Devi. The temple faces east aligning the sanctums of Pampa Devi and Shiva. It is originally a small temple of 11th CE which was extended by the rulers of Vijayanagara. The complex also includes a 100 column hall, and each pillar is carved with Hindu reliefs on all four sides.
Krishna or the Balakrishna temple houses the idol of Krishna an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is situated near Hemakuta Hills. The reliefs of all ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu can be seen in the ruins of the temple. South of Krishna temple are shrines housing monolithic Shiva and Yogi-Narsimha Idols.
The Ramchandra temple or famously known as the Hazar Rama Temple is situated in the royal core of Hampi. The temple as the name suggests is dedicated to Rama an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The entire story of Ramayana, a Hindu epic, is carved on the walls of the temple. It is said to be a royal ceremonial temple, attributed to king Devaraya I. the temple has depicted many different believes through its carving which include Ramayana of Vaishnavism, Shiva and Parvati of Shaivism, a jain tirthankar of Jainism and Durga as Mahishasurmardini of Shaktism.
What is common about yet uncommon of these temples is that they all have markets and gopurams. But all of these markets are built in different ways. Some high-some low, some within the some within the complex- some outside, some for royals and some for public. Gopurams, a pyramidal structure of plastered storeys carved with various erotic sculptures e.g. Jay and Ajay, two guards of Lord Vishnu. The uncommon was their size, their sculptures and their stories.
The Mahanavmi Dibba is another attraction of Hampi. It is known by various other names like Audience Hall, The Great Platform etc. in the royal centre, the platform is within a 7.5 hectares complex. The platform has three ascending squares rising to the height of about 12m. The platform has carvings of daily celebrations, dancers, musicians, battles, festivals etc.
The Gajashala, elephant stables, lies to the east of the royal centre. It consists of eleven square aligned chambers from north to south. The stables have arched openings. Above the ten chambers are domes and in middle are stairs to reach the roof. The Lotus Mahal is situated close to Gajashala. It is a two storied pavilion in the royal centre. It is a symmetrical square structure which displays Indo-Islamic style of architecture.
Ahmad Khan mosque and tomb is in south east are of the urban core. It was built by king Devaraya II, in remembrance of his one of the most trusted army officers Ahmad Khan. Mosque is a pillared pavilion.
Ganigitti Jain Temple is also situated in the southeast urban core. It is famous for its monolithic lamp pillar and houses the idol of Tirthankara Kunthunatha. It was built by King Harihara II in 1385 CE.
What to Buy
Hand stitched blankets and Hand carved stones are good to buy here. There is no working ATM in Hampi. If you want to withdraw cash you need to travel to Kamalapur and Anegundi which takes about 15 mins.
Where to Eat
There are several places for a good meal in Hampi. Laughing budhha restaurant is known for its continental and Punjabi food. If you wish to south Indian food Sagar Hotel is the best choice. There is also a Goan corner which is a café. Other nice places include Mango Tree, Chillout Restaurant, Tom and Jerry and others.
How to Reach
There are several ways one can go to Hampi.
Airport at Hubli is the nearest for those who prefer to travel by air. Not direct flights are available for Hubli; one might have to change flight at Mumbai for Hubli. From here Hampi has to be reached by taking a Bus or a taxi.
Another mode is by train. The railway station at Hospet is nearest to Hampi. There are several trains to Hospet from Bangalore, Goa and Hyderabad. From Hospet Station there are buses that travel to Hampi. One can also travel by car.
Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation provides bus services to Hampi from Bangalore, Mysore, and Gokarna. Private buses also run on these routes. Car is also an option to reach Hampi from places like Mumbai, Hyderabad, Goa, Bangalore, Mysore, Hubli, Hospet etc.