Hampi The Ruined Canvas Of India’s Master Stone Sculptors
The magnificent ‘Hampi’ makes you fall in love with it the moment you step into its wonderland of ruined monuments! The architectures in ‘Hampi’ may be in the ruined state, but that doesn’t conceal the aesthetic charm of these buildings & the brilliance of hands which carved them! Every monument in this area testifies the glory of the kingdom of ‘Vijaynagar’ that ruled here & provided patronage to the most of the structures & every stone of these monuments has a tale to tell. Lingering around the ruined temple complexes of ‘Hampi’ is equivalent to shuffling through the manuscripts of the architecture as well as history at the same time!
The arid landscape of ‘Hampi’ boasts a massive lineage of boulder-strewn hills that sets stunning background for some 500-plus architectural masterpieces that appear before you as you move through the hills & the valleys of ‘Hampi’. The architectural treasury of ‘Hampi’ includes everything- from neatly carved stone sculptures of Hindu as well as Jain deities to the royal platforms, from the ruins of palaces to giant aqueducts! Stone carved temples are, in particular, more illustrious & they attract both- the pilgrims as well as art lovers with the same intensity!
How To Reach?
Image Credit@ Deepak Vastare
‘Hampi’ is situated on the banks of ‘Tungbhadra River’ in the state of Karnataka & shares good connectivity with some of the major cities in southern India. The aerial transport to ‘Hampi’ is somewhat tedious, since the nearest airport is located at Hubli, some 143 km away from ‘Hampi’, although the rail & road transports are far more convenient & cheaper.
By Train: ‘Hampi’ is connected with ‘Banglore’, ‘Hyderabad’, ‘Mysore’ & ‘Goa’ by the means of overnight trains. Hospet is the nearest railway junction from ‘Hampi’. The bus station for ‘Hampi’ is located a mile away from the railway station.
By Road: Hampi can be reached by hiring private vehicles from the cities like ‘Hubli’, ‘Hyderabad’, ‘Banglore’ or ‘Mysore’. Alternatively, ‘State Transport Buses’ operated by Karnataka State can also be taken from Banglore, Mysore & Gokarna to reach to ‘Hampi’.
A Glance Through The History:
The history suggests that the first settlement in ‘Hampi’ occurred during 1BC. A Brahmi engraving & a terracotta seal depict that the place was under the command of the Emperor Ashoka, the great during the 3rd century.
‘Hampi’ came into light during the 14th century, when the Kingdom of Vijaynagar made ‘Hampi’ part of its capital. ‘Hampi’ served as the capital city from 1343 to 1565 during which, the architectural excellence of ‘Vijaynagar’ reached to its zenith. The glory of ‘Hampi’ shined at a full blaze until it was seized by the Deccan Muslim Confederacy. The natural defense provided by the mighty ‘Tungbhadra River’ on one side & imposing hills on the rest of the three sides always kept the rulers interested in ‘Hampi’.
Architectural Treasury of Hampi:
The monuments in ‘Hampi’ can roughly be divided into the categories such as Religious, Civil & Military structures. During the reign of the ‘Vijaynagar’ dynasty, the city was enclosed within seven layers of fortifications featuring myriad gateways & bastions. The innermost ramparts are in good conditions. Although, most of the buildings were constructed during the ‘Vijaynagar’ period, some of the monuments date back to pre-Vijaynagar era.
Most of the religious monuments in ‘Hampi’ are dedicated to Hindu deities, some of which are still considered as places of pilgrimage by many devout Hindus. The pre-Vijaynagar temples are thought to be ‘Jain temples’, which were erected in the 9th-10th century AD during the reign of Chalukya sovereignty. The Jain temples on Hemakuta hill & two ‘Devi shrines’ are, in particular, notable among the pre-Vijaynagar monuments.
Mentioning about all the monuments is practically impossible considering their numbers. The most magnificent of them are as follows:
Jain Temple: The ‘Jain temple’, built in1385, boasts the architectural elements which were prevalent during pre-Vijaynagar reign. It houses two shrines & a tall lamp-pole in front of the temple. The pyramid-styled stepped towers called ‘Vimanas’ feature relatively stark appearance as compared to the rest of the buildings in ‘Hampi’.
Vitthala Temple: Perhaps the best in the pack, the spectacular ‘Vitthala Temple’ demonstrates the brilliance of ancient Indian architectures! The temple is widely famous for its iconic stone chariot called the ‘Rath‘, which indisputably, is the highlight of ‘Hampi’. The chariot has now become the emblem of the Karnataka Tourism Board. The ‘Vitthala Temple’ is also famous for its musical colonnades that reverberate musical notes when tapped. However, the access to the colonnades have been closed by the authorities in order to preserve this architectural marvel. The entire temple is adorned with the delicate stone carvings, busts of celestial nymphs & mythological animals.
Virupaksha Temple: The temple is situated in the Hampi Bazaar & is also known as the ‘Pampavathi Temple’. The temple was constructed before the establishment of the ‘Vijaynagar’ empire & is renowned for its magnificent entrance, which consists of a pyramidal tower that rises some 160 feet high. Temple house statues of Lord Shiva along with the goddesses Bhuvaneshwari & Pampavati. The temple complex is a treat to eyes & photographer’s delight.
Hazara Ram Temple Complex: The temple complex features elaborate frescos from the Hindu mythology. The temple complex is adorned with the innumerable stone carvings & bas-reliefs of the scenes from the Indian epic- Ramayana.
Civil & Military Buildings: ‘Hampi’ houses a wide range of civil as well as military buildings. Gargantuan aqueducts & canals demonstrates the engineering achievement of Vijaynagar, whereas, other buildings such as the Lotus Mahal & the Zanana Enclosure are famous for their aesthetic wealth. Massive barracks, which were used for housing eleven imperial elephants in the emperor Krishnadevray’s entourage, are worth visiting.
Apart from the notable structures mentioned above, ‘Hampi’ houses multitudes of other monuments which have their own charm & importance. In particular, the monolithic statues of Lord Ganesh, Lord Narsimha & Nandi (reverential Bull) conjure the minds of the spectators. A visit to the Malayavanta Raghunathaswamy Temple, Achyutaraya Temple & Chandramauleshwara Temple completes the journey through the enchanting ruins of majestic ‘Hampi’.
The veteran ruins of ‘Hampi’ are spread across a huge area & it is always advisable to use bicycles during your expedition. Alternately, you can also hire a bike/Scooty or a car to cover all the places.
- The magnificent ‘Hampi’ was declared as ‘UNESCO’ World Heritage Sites.
- ‘Hampi’ is one of the most famous locations for shooting & has featured in many Indian films.
- In 2014, the arid landscape of ‘Hampi’ was the most searched tourist place in ‘Karnataka’. The place is annually visited by a vast number of local as well as foreign tourists.
- ‘Hampi’ remains open throughout the year, although it is best to avoid vacationing in ‘Hampi’ during the summer- from March to May as the temperature can rise up to 400 ‘August to February’ is the best season to explore the staggering beauty of its stone carved marvels!