Hampi is a small village located on the banks of Tungabhadra River in the South Indian state of Karnataka. A renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hampi village stands within the ruins of Vijayanagara city, the former capital of the mighty Vijayanagara Empire. Also known as Pampa-Kshetra or Kishkindha-Kshetra, the name Hampi is derived from Pampa, the old name of Tungabhadra River. It is one of the top places to visit in Karnataka and also one of the best heritage sites in India.
Hampi is a most important place in terms of architecture and its history. Hampi was an extremely important part of Vijayanagara Empire and also one of the richest and largest cities in the world during 15th and 16th centuries. The ruins of the palaces and temples in Hampi stand testimony to the wealth and grandeur of the Vijayanagara Kings. The ruins of Hampi are spread over an area of more than 26 Sq.km and are divided into two broad areas; the Hampi Bazaar area and the Royal center.
Virupaksha Temple, also known as Pampapathi Temple, is an ancient temple located at the western end of Hampi Bazaar in Hampi. Renowned as one of the oldest functioning temple in India, Sri Virupaksha Temple is a 7th-century temple dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. The temple is the part of the Group of Monuments at Hampi, designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the top places of pilgrimage in Karnataka and also one of the top places to visit in Hampi.
The sprawling campus of the Virupaksha temple is architectural grandeur which houses a huge courtyard, huge entrance towers, a beautifully carved mandapa and the main sanctum. The annual chariot festival in February and marriage festivities of Virupaksha and Pampa in December are the major festival at this temple. It is one of the best place in Bangalore and also one of the popular one day trip from Bangalore.
Hampi Bazaar, also known as Virupaksha Bazaar, is a located in front of the historic Virupaksha Temple in Hampi. About a kilometer long, the bazaar starts from the temple entrance and ends at the foothill of the Matanga Hill. Hampi Bazaar is one of the top Hampi tourist places. It has a series of old pavilions on both sides and was the place where merchants used to sell precious stones, jewellery, silk clothes, etc. during Vijayanagara Empire. Yeduru Basavanna, a huge Nandi is located at the eastern end of the street. There is also a photo gallery near the bull that displays the photos of Hampi taken by Alexander Greenlaw in 1856 CE.
Built in 15th century AD, Vittala Temple is an ancient monument located on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra River in the historical town of Hampi. Also known as Vijaya Vittala Temple, it is the most famous and popular tourist attraction in Hampi. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is well-known for its beautiful architecture and unmatched craftsmanship.
The entire temple complex houses several small temples, enclosures, pavilions and halls. One of the main attractions of the temple are its marvelously created pillared halls that reflect true wonders of architecture along with a gigantic stone chariot. This is one of the three famous stone chariots in India, the other two being in Konark and Mahabalipuram and is enshrined Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. The Goddess’s shrine, the 100-pillared hall, the Kalyana Mandapa and the pillared corridor are other important structures with in the complex of Vittala Temple.
The Royal Enclosure in Hampi is a huge fortified area that was once the seat of power of the Vijaynagara rulers. Spread over an area of 59,000 square meters, the Royal Enclosure contains the ruins of several palace bases, water tanks, temples, ornate platform and canals and many other structures. Some of the important structures of the Royal Enclosure are the King’s Audience Hall or Durbar Hall, stepped tank, an underground chamber and the Mahanavami Dibba to the commonly called Dasara Dibba. Now, it is basically a wide open ground consisting of a number of small shelters.
Hemakuta Hill Temple Complex
Hemakuta Temple Complex is a cluster of ancient temples situated on the Hemakuta hill just beside Virupaksha Temple in Hampi. This golden hillock is one of the most charming hillocks in Hampi and is dotted by over fifty ruined structures which include temples, mandapas, galleries and gateways of various sizes. More than 35 temples, built in 9th to 14th Century AD, are located on this Hill and are dedicated to Lord Shiva. It offers excellent view of Hampi Bazaar and Virupaksha temple. Hemakuta Hill is one of the top places of sightseeing in Hampi and also one of the best places to experience beautiful sunrise.