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Hampi, the heritage city in India


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Tags: hampi, india, heritage, vijayanagara empire
  • Added on: October 6th, 2009
On the banks of Tungabhadra River near Hospet in Karnataka, lies Hampi, where the ruins of the great Vijayanagara Empire can be found today. Founded by Hairhara and Bukka, the empire fell by 1565 to Muslim sultans. Even though the once proud city of victory lies in ruins today, it has a sense of timelessness. It was referred to as Kishkinda during Ramayana era while in modern times Jackie Chan and Mallika Sherawat starred in the movie “Myth” with Hampi as the backdrop! You can call this UNESCO world heritage site as one of the world’s largest open air museums.

What to do:

Remnants of the Vijayanagara Empire can be found all around Hampi. There are more than 30 prominent sites which will take anywhere from a week to 10 days to visit. I am listing out a few highlights that can be covered over 3 days.

The magnificent Virupaksha temple is a good place to start with. It is from the Hoysala period and is the oldest temple in Hampi. The temple tower has eleven storeys and goes up 165 ft in height. The river Tungabhadra flows inside through a canal. Some prominent landmarks inside the compound are the pilgrim rooms, ancient marriage hall and temples of Pataleswara, Muktinarasimha, Suryanarayana, Laxminarasimha and Mahishasuramardini. Before leaving the premises, do visit the back side of the temple and take the steps up to a dark chamber. You will find a shadow of a perfectly inverted image of the main tower made by light coming from a hole in the eastern wall. A pin-hole camera in action from ancient times!

On the way back from Virupaksa temple you can visit the Hampi Bazaar. Its 35 yards wide and nearly 800 yards long and was a throbbing market place.

King’s Balance has an interesting origin. This is a huge stone frame east of Purandara Mantapa. A stone beam is placed on two pillars of stone. Legend has it that the generous Kings of Vijayanagara used to weigh them with gold and gems and distribute it among the poor.

Vijaya Vittala temple is probably the grandest masterpiece around. It is constructed on a polyhedron foundation. Right at the front is the world renowned stone chariot made of rough quartz. You will spot figures of soldiers, hunters and even foreign visitors like Portuguese and Arabs etched on the chariot. The musical pillars of the temple are probably one of the greatest work of art by mankind. There are about 40 of the original 56 pillars still standing. Striking each pillar by knuckles produces sound from a distinct Indian classical musical instrument!

Badavi Linga is the biggest of all lingas in Hampi. It is made of black stone and rises 12 feet in height. A canal passes through it and hence it’s always in water.

You can find the biggest idol of Hampi, a few feet from Badavi Linga. Ugra Narasimha is 22 feet in height and was carved by a Brahmin during Krishnadevaraya’s time. The serpent with open hood at the back of the head leaves a great impression.

Another must-see site is the elephant stables. Eleven of them are inter-connected with small doors
You can finish your Hampi trip with a ride in the Tungabhadra on a coracle. Its real fun sitting on these circular baskets and sipping in the evening breeze and setting sun casting a radiant image on the turbulent waters.

Not many know about a sloth bear sanctuary near Hampi! A visit to Daroji Bear Sanctuary is a good idea as it is just 15 kms away. More than a hundred Sloth Bears are living in this sanctuary. If you are lucky you can even spot Leopards, Hyena, Jackals, Wild Boars, Porcupine, Pangolins, Star Tortoise, Monitor Lizard, Mongoose, Pea Fowls, Partridges, Painted Spur Hen and Quails.

Getting there
Hampi is 364 kms from Bangalore. Hospet which is 12 kms away is the nearest bus and railway station.


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Joined: December 27th, 2002
Location: Currently cycling from Indonesia to India

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  • Added on: October 6th, 2009
Hampi might be of interest to pilgrims. But it's also one of the worst backpacker ghettos in India - together with Pushkar. In both places I felt in a India-themed mall. Horrible. And that was 5 years ago - it can only have gotten worse since then...
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"Nationalism is an infantile disease, the measles of mankind." Albert Einstein


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: September 23rd, 2009

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  • Added on: October 13th, 2009
I guess its been over promoted! Its better to go during off season closer to summer to avoid the crowds. But it will be hot!

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