A World Heritage Site, the ruins of Hampi are worth a visit and provide for an ideal weekend getaway...
on the World Map
Hampi, near Hospet in Karnataka was the capital of the great Vijayanagara dynasty spread across the years 1336 to 1565. The Vijayanagara kings were renowned for their patronage of the arts and ample evidence can be found in the architectural beauty of the monuments. Sadly, invaders plundered the capital and razed to ground these magnificent monuments and today, this World Heritage Site stands in ruins over a vast scattered area.
Hampi was once a pilgrimage place before it came to be established as the capital of the Vijayanagara kingdom. Legend has it that Hampi was the abode of Lord Virupkasha and his consort Pampa and that Lord Siva did penance here before subsequently marrying Parvathi.
Those who wish to regale in the 230-year history of the Vijayanagara kingdom, admire what little is left of some breathtaking architecture, then a visit to Hampi is well worth the trip.
The Vijayanagara Empire - a brief history
History records that the Vijayanagara Empire was the largest amongst Hindu empires founded in the middle of the 14th century by two brothers, Harihara (Hakka) and Bukka. It's said that this is the only empire conceived primarily to contain the onslaught of Deccan Sultans against the Hindu religion. The choice of the pilgrim town of Hampi as the capital was made because of it's natural fortress like surroundings consisting of steep, rocky mountains, with massive boulders of granite on three sides and the mighty Tungabadhra River covering up the fourth. Besides the land was fertile and abundant with water.
The 230-year-old Vijayanagara empire spans across four dynasties but the period 1509 to 1529 is vastly acknowledged as the "golden age" of the empire under the rule of the great King Krishnadevaraya. He was an able administrator, a brave warrior, patronized the arts and literature, encouraged trade and was responsible for constructing many of the temples and structures during his 21-year rule.
The Vijayanagara style of architecture leaned heavily on the availability of natural resources in the rocky mountainous region of its surroundings, namely granite. The uniqueness of this distinct style is very much evident in the massive structures and monuments built by the Vijayanagara rulers. The ceilings of many temples have colorful paintings as well as fine carvings depicting various religious and mythological scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata, coronation of Rama, Parvathi's marriage, Arjuna's penance and so on.
In 1565 came the battle of Talikota and the conquest by Muslim invaders entered into South India. The war brought about the downfall of what is regarded as the most glorious empire in the history of India. Though the dynasty lingered on for some more time, its famed capital Hampi, lay in ruins - ransacked, pillaged and demolished - as a sad reminder of its once glorious past.
Lets now take a tour of Hampi...