How excited are you to visit historical, heritage sites from the bygone era? Are you one of those who is enchanted by the grandeur of architectural brilliance and astounding monuments? If you said yes, welcome to Hampi by the banks of River Tungabhadra. Known as the “World’s Largest Open-air Museum”, Hampi is a UNESCO-classified World Heritage Site. The glorious times of this temple town date back to the fourteenth century when it was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire. The decline of the empire and subsequent plunder by the Deccan rulers left Hampi in a dilapidated state.
Sadly, that’s what you would witness when you spend a day in Hampi. Nevertheless, the desolate town still evokes memories of a magnificent era. A day in Hampi leaves you with innumerable spots to admire. Ruins of temples, fortifications, ponds and pavilions, elephant stables, marketplaces, and astonishing temples dot the landscape.
A lot of walking is mandated once you are in Hampi. It might seem an uphill task, however, your day in Hampi will be less fruitful, if you are sluggish.
It is better to start your day early in the morning. By evening you will realize spending just a day in Hampi doesn’t give justice to the sheer grandeur at sight.
Hence, to spend a day in Hampi fruitfully, let us pick on the Sacred Centre of the two predominant areas. The other one is Royal Centre where you can see palaces, museums, baths, stable, etc. Sacred Centre, on the other hand, is famous for its fascinating stone-carved temples.
Photo courtesy fb@tomyabijith.
Malyavanta Raghunatha temple
A hilltop temple and owing to the very reason it attracts less crowd. But reaching on top will promise you stunning views. Malayavanta Raghunatha Temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. The spacious temple complex consists of a few temples and pavilions. On the rocky floor, you can spot statues of carved Nandi (Bull) and Shiva Lingas. Apart from the panoramic view, a consistent whiff of wind keeps you less tired while you walk around.
This is one temple that is located in the Royal center on the opposite side of all other temples.
The majestic stone structure catches your attention immediately after reaching Hampi. Believed to have been erected during the Vijayanagara Empire, Virupaksha Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. A shrine of Goddess Bhuvaneshvari and Pampa can be spotted in the temple.
Several myths validate the reason why the shrine is also part of this Shiva temple. Walking around the temple, you can observe numerous stone carvings and reliefs; lot many of them are of Lord Vishnu. Intruders’ sovereignty did have devastating consequences in the region and the Virupaksha temple was not spared either. In spite of that, you will still be mesmerized by what you will see here.’Several myths validate the reason why the shrine is also part of this Shiva temple. Walking around the temple, you can observe numerous stone carvings and reliefs; lot many of them are of Lord Vishnu. Intruders’ sovereignty did have devastating consequences in the region and the Virupaksha temple was not spared either. In spite of that, you will still be mesmerized by what you will see here.
Imagine a gigantic eight feet single block of rock statue! Yes, that is what is spectacular about Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple. The installation of the deity dates back to the 1500s. ‘It was erected in memory of the king Narasimha II, of the Vijayanagara Empire’ as mentioned in an inscription on the statue. Going by the mythology, the statue of Lord Ganesh can be seen with a snake tied around the stomach.
Madhava (Ranga) Temple
Despite undergoing fortification efforts from time to time, the temple is in a dilapidated condition. An inscription in the area states it was constructed for the god Madhava by Timmaraju son of Vallabharaju. And it dates back to AD1545. Among the shambles, sculptured pillars stand out. You can admire the sculptural depictions of Krishna Leela, Vitthalam Srinivasa, Garuda, Vitthala, Surya, Balakrishna, Hanuman, Alwars, and others among them. There are around 30 odds of such pillars with striking sculpture works.
Another prime spot that you cannot miss is the Vittala Temple complex. The spacious complex with walls around it houses the iconic stone chariot. Vittala is a form of lord Vishnu. Once you walk inside through the stone-carved arch, you would be taken aback by the architectural wonders done on stones. Small temples, pillars, and walls on the premises are going to consume a lot of time to appreciate and admire. There are other interesting detailed works that can be noticed and make you wonder how much more brilliant it would have been before it was attacked.
Lakshmi Narasimha temple
Another work of architectural wonder bore the brunt during the invasion and vandalism. The unique architecture of Lakshmi Narasimha can be seen with mutilated limbs. The temple is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, and Goddess Lakshmi. It is considered to be one of the finest existing samples of the Vijayanagara style of architecture. As can be seen, Lord Narasimha is seated in a cross-legged position. The Lord is seated on Adishesha, the king of all snakes, with the hoods serving as the shelter over his head.
Monolithic Bull (Ek Shila Nandi)
The Nandi statue is an iconic structure. Nandi is the mount of Lord Shiva. The gigantic statue is carved out of a single stone and can be seen at the foothill of Matanga Hill. The statue is placed on an elevated platform with stone walls and roofing.
Scores of other temples like Achyutaraya Temple, Badavilinga or Big Shivlinga, Hanuman Temple, Hazara Temple, Hemakunta Hill Temple, Sri Krishna Temple, Ganagitti Temple, Kodanada Rama temple, Pattairama temple, Varaha temple are there to be admired. All except Malayavanta Raghunatha Temple and a handful of others are close to each other within a radius of 1-3 kilometers.
When to go?
Winter (November-February) is the best time to go as a day in Hampi involves long hours of strolling. Also, note that the Virupaksha Temple Car Festival and the annual Purandaradasa Aradhana Music Festival at Vittala Temple happen in January.
How to Reach?
No nearby airports. Bangalore international airport is nearly 360 km away.
The nearest railway station is 13 KM away at Hospet, which is connected to all major cities.
Buses ply from places like Bellary, Hospet, and Bangalore to Hampi. Two wheeler ride is the most convenient option in Hampi.
A Travel enthusiast and Foodie, craving to explore the intricate beauty of nature and its gift of delectable treats. Pens down his thoughts and experiences to present a delightful journey for his readers