Trip To Glorious Hampi

The silence in the room was interrupted by Mozart’s Symphony 9. I rushed over to take the call. I was informed that my friends would not be able to make it to the trip. We had planned for the trip a week ago and 9 people showed interest. In the last minute the number came down to just 2. I had no intention of re-planning the trip and i wanted to go ahead even if no one joins me. Luckily, my friend did not back out in the last minute. We hit Tumkur Highway NH4 by 5:00 PM and stopped at CCD for a break. We had no intention of driving all night. The road was in excellent condition till Chitradurga.  The road turned really bad after that. Our average speed was reduced to 30kmph. Driving at night is bad idea especially when the roads are bad. We managed to reach Hampi at 1:00 AM. We had booked a room at Gopi Guest House, Hampi. The owner wanted us to call him once we reach Hampi. We were warned that there would be no signal at Hampi. We informed the owner well in advance of our arrival. Hampi is a small village which is closed at night. No vehicles are permitted to enter the village. However, our guest house owner managed to get us the permit to enter the village. We were tired and hit the sacks immediately.

Hampi has lot of history associated with it. There are many books on Hampi and loads of information on the internet. In this post iam not going to write about history as most of it already available.  The village is filled with majestic temples build by the Vijayanagara Empire which flourished from 13th century to 16th century. The best way to see Hampi is to take our own vehicle. We  traveled  around in our own car which was very convenient. One can also hire two wheelers and bicycles to travel around. Most places  are within 4km radius.

Virupaksha Temple: This temple was present even before the Vijayanagara Empire. It dates back to 7th century. Its a temple dedicated to Hindu God Shiva. Its not clear who built the first shrine of this temple. The architecture of this temple is predominantly Vijayanagara, but traces of Chalukya and Hoysala empires can be found.

Virupaksha Temple, Hampi

Its believed that The Vijayanagara Empire built the temple complex as it stands today. However the exact origin of the temple is not known. The temple’s  main attraction apart from the main shrine are the unusual 3 headed Nandi bull.

Triple Nandi

A row of decorated pillars which has lion carved at the bottom of each pillar seem to form the base. The pillars also contain variety of interesting figures of animals.

Row Of Decorated Pillars

Like most Hindu temples, Virupaksha temple also celebrates the fertility rites of humans through erotic pose of couples found on the temple tower. More information of this temple can be found here.

Hemakuta Hill: The sacred Hemakuta hill is dotted with numerous shrines and mandapas. Some of the fine temples situated here appear to date from about 9th to 14th century AD. One of the main features of these temples are three shrines facing east, west and north with common adhramandapa and a front porch. A group of small shrines are facing different directions.

East Facing Mandapas

Inscriptions are found in 2 of the temples. Mummadi Singeya Nayaka’s son Vira Kampiladeva built the triple Shiva temples. The construction of lamp pillar in the temple of Jadeya Sankaradeva is attributed to Bukkave, the queen of Vira Harihara Raya II of Sangama Dynasty. Most of the temples have a stepped pyramid like architecture.

3 temples facing the same direction

Most of the temples are not carved out of a single stone. They are mostly smaller stones stacked up layer by layer. Most of the Mandapas and Temples are ruined and it currently being renovated.

A View Of Various Temples On The Hill

Prasanna Virupaksha (Underground Shiva) Temple: This temple is known as the underground temple simply because of the roof of the temple is with the present ground level since it is in low lying area.

A View Of The Underground Shiva Temple

The Temple has a Grabhagriha, aligned with an Antarala and Aradhamantapa and a Mahamantapa. The Mahamantapa has pillared corridors fuse with the pillared Mukhamantapa making a larger pillared frontal Mantapa which encloses a Dwajastamba. The pillars of the temple are plain.

Pillars Of Mahamantapa and Mukhamantapa Fused Together

The temple is datable to 14th century AD. An inscription referring to this temple states thats Krishnadevaraya donated Nagalapura and other villages for worship and offering to the god for the merit of his parents Narsa Nayaka and Nagajidevi.

Ruins Of The Underground Temple

Mahanavami Dibba: This is the tallest structure in the Royal Enclosure. The Royal enclosure housed residential and ceremonial enclosures. The vast area is used for ceremonies, sports and entertainment.

A View Of Mahanavami Dibba

The whole structure is made as a giant square structure in three layers. This was constructed by Krishnadevaraya after his victory over Udaygiri (in Orissa). This structure underwent a lot of changes by the succeeding kings. This can be seen as greenish black stones of different nature superimposed on top of the already  existing structure.

Superimposed Greenish Rocks

The terraced platform is nearly 35sq. mts and has an approach flights of steps on East, West and South. Each tire of the platform has sculpted moldings in the typical Vijayanagara style architecture. The Lower tire has low relief sculptural friezes depicting the socio cultural activities of that time.

Depiction Of A Hunter

King Taming The Beast

The use of this platform is speculated. There are references to the use of the platform by the Royal Family for important festivals like Mahanvami by travelers Abdur Razak and Domingo Paes in 1520 AD and 1442 -43 AD respectively.

The Royal Court

Hazararama Temple: The Hazararama temple is the only temple situated in the core of the Royal Zone. Dedicated to lord Vishnu in his aspect as lord Rama, this 15th century temple, is the finest example of a compact Dravida Vimana type of temple.

Entrance Of Hazararama Temple

The temple is known for its sculpted frenzies depicting the Ramanaya, in three tires, running all around the main shrine, and narrative sculptures of Lava-Kusha story on the Devi shrine. Its because of this that the temple was evidently called Hazara Rama.

Ramanaya Depicted On The Walls Of The Temple

The temple is also know for the Bhagavata, especially of Bala Krishna, and the sculpted polished pillars of the Mahamantapa. It was undoubtedly the temple of Royal Patronage.

Stone Carvings Outside The Temple

Krishna Temple: The Krishna temple was built by Krishnadevaraya dating to 1513 AD. The inscriptions records that the image of Bala Krishna was brought here by the king from a temple in Udayagiri during his Orissa campaign and enshrined in the Mahamandapa.

Entrance Of Krishna Temple

Mahamantapa Of Krishna Temple

This large and ornate east-facing temple complex is built in the typical Vijayanagara style. One of the pillars in the ardhamandapa has all the ten avatharas of Vishnu, including the rare one of Kalki, are carved on it. Kalki is depicted as a seated figure with a horse’s head.

The Top Image Represents Kalki Avathara

Pushkarani Opposite Krishna Temple

Vitthala Temple: Among all the temples in Hampi, this to me is the most exotic. The Vitthala temple, represents the highest watermark of the Vijayanagara style art and architecture. Vitthala is the Krishna aspect of Lord Vishnu. It is one of the largest temples of that period, built under the patronage of Devaraya II (1422 – 46 AD).

Entrance Of Vitthala Temple

The hundred pillared mantapa, to the south west of the main temple, and eastern and norther gateways carved with deceptions of Vishnu and his other forms, are attributed to Krishnadevaraya and his queens.

Northern Gateway Of Vitthala Temple

The temple is built on an sculptured ornate plinth. The composite pillars of the Sabha Mantapa are massive, carved out of single granite blocks, which are designed as clusters of slender pillars. Some of these when tapped gently, produce musical notes.

Musical Pillars

Unfortunately, the pillars are in bad shape and are now under renovation.  The stone chariot at the entrance, a reproduction of a processional wooden chariot, is perhaps the most stunning achievements, typically of the Vijayanagara period. It houses an image of Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu.

A Stone Chariot

Backyard Of Vitthala Temple

In and Around Anegundi: Anegundi, believed to be the monkey kingdom of Kishkindha in the epic of Ramayana, is at a distance of 5 km from the historical site of Hampi. Anjanadri hill, the birth place of monkey-god Hanuman, and the mountain Rishimuka are the other places near Anegundi associated with Ramayana.

Gagan Palace: The old broken down palace of the queen of the Vijayanagara Empire. I could not find much information about the construction of this palace. If anyone is aware please let me know.

Gagan Mahal

Nava Brindavana: The Brindhavan of the saint Sri Raghavendra is located at a small island formed by Thungabadra. The island is home to tombs of eight other saints associated with the sect.

  • Sri Padmanabha Theerthar, the prime sishya of Sri Madhvacharyar (1317-1324)
  • Sri Jaya Theerthar (1365-1388), Sri Raghu Variyar, Guru of Raghothama Theerthar whose Brindhavan is at Thirukkoyilur near Thiruvannamalai (1502-1537)
  • Sri Kaveendhra Theerthar (1392-1398)
  • Sri Vaageesa Theerthar (1398-1406)
  • Sri Vyasaraja Theerthar (1447-1539), Raja guru of Krishna Deva Raya and the next avatar of Brhalatha and the earlier avatar of Sri Raghavendhra
  • Sri Srinivasa Theerthar (1539-1564)
  • Sri Rama Theerthar (1564-1584)
  • Sri Suseendhra Theerthar, Ragavendhra swami’s guru (1614-1623)
  • Sri Govindha Odeyar (1534)

Nava Brindhavan

Chintamani Main Entrance Gate: Local people believe this to be the ancient place known as Kishkindha where Rama met Hanuman and Sugriva. The Rishmukh mountain mentioned in the Ramayana is also near Hampi. The ancient place, Kishkindha, was ruled by Sugriva and Vali. After a quarrel with Vali, Sugriva was driven out. He then went to stay at Matanga-parvata Hill. One can get a good view of the surrounding area from the top of this hill. While searching for Sita, who had been kidnapped by Ravana, Rama and Lakshmana went south and met Sugriva and Hanuman. Rama killed Vali and restored the kingdom to Sugriva. While Hanuman went to search for Sita, it is said that Rama stayed at Malyavanta Hill, which is on the road to Kampili, about 6 km East of the Virupaksa temple. There is a Ranganatha temple there with a large deity of Shri Rama. On the way between Virupaksa temple and Vitthala temple there is a cave on the bank of the Tungbhadra river where Sugriva is said to have hidden Sita’s jewels for safety. There are marks and streaks on the rocks, which are said to have been made by Sita’s ornaments. There is a huge mound of scorched ash in the nearby village of Nimbapuram that is said to be the cremated remains of Vali. The birthplace of Hanuman is said to be a little to the northwest.

The Image Shows The Foot Of Lord Rama And The Bow Arrow Used To Kill Vali

This post only contains some of my favorite places i visit during my trip to Hampi. For detailed information of all the places to visit in Hampi please contact the Hami Tourist Department or check out their website.

Things  To Know For The Trip:

  • Never hire a moped if two people are planning to travel in the same vehicle. Always hire a bike. The cost of moped for a day is Rs. 150 and for a bike its ranges from Rs.250 to 300.
  • Private vehicles must be parked outside the village gate.
  • Best time to view most places in Hampi is from 6:00 AM to 8:00 AM and again from 4:00PM to 6:00PM.
  • Best restaurant in town is Mango Tree. Its situated along the river banks. Anyone in Hampi will be able to point you to that restaurant.
  • Always go to the “Tourist Information Center” situated on the main bazaar street for guides.
  • Book your rooms in advance especially if you plan to stay in Hampi on weekends.

Misc Details:

Accommodation: Gopi Guest House, Janata Plot, Hampi. Phone: +91 (0)8394241695, 9480353260, 9448146090



15 responses to “Trip To Glorious Hampi

  1. Very well composed post, Varun. Memories of my previous visits to Hampi were refreshed after reading your post. The succinct details of the various ruins and the photos of vantage spots make this post a apt one on Hampi for any traveler keen on Hampi. Keep it up!

  2. kasiviswanathan

    Excellent .. the photos are great .. this article clearly shows that we need to know a lot more about our india itself before thinking about any foreign countries ..
    one more thing.. Sugriva’s brother is vali not bali .. rama killed vali so that Sugriva can rule the kingdom of kishkinda

  3. Can I join you when you guys go next time 😀
    this is too good…

  4. uncle and aunty

    wonderful varun.. it was just like visiting the places ourselves.. wish we accompany you to the great vitthala temple and surroundings…

  5. Old memories got rekindled … thanks

  6. Good coverage & beautiful photos Varun .. Good to see past glory of Vijayanagara kingdom.
    Once upon a time Hampe was a marvelous place .. and now it is Haalu Hampe 😦

  7. hello sir,i really enjoyed reading your blog.myself being a local guy from hampi,never really knew all this information.thanx alot!!

  8. nice article…keep blogging…

  9. Fantastic post, varun! I visited Hampi a few years ago, but was there for only a day. I’m now planning a 5-day trip, just to see hampi, towards the end of december. I had a couple of questions for you – do you think 5 days are enough? Or would they be too much or too less to see all of hampi? Also, would you recommend hiring cycles and using them to move around in Hampi? Thanks!

    • 5 days is very good. In 5 days you can explore Hampi, Anegundi and the pre historic cave paintings (if you are interested). Take a cycle and roam around, i also would suggest going to all the museums there.

  10. this was useful as my daughter had a project to rite on this .we will use this information.thank’s my favourite place too.

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