Hampi is an ancient site that once used to be the royal capital of the Vijayanagar Empire. Known as the 'city of ruins', Hampi is a small village in the northern part of Karnataka. Hampi is regarded as one of the most beautiful towns in Karnataka. Located near Hospet, Hampi is easily accessible by regular tourist buses from the major cities and towns of Karnataka. Hampi, the village is upkeeping the religious roots that were sown by the Vijayanagar rulers in the form of its temples.
In the 14th century, Hampi used to make the royal capital and major
religious center of the Vijayanagar Empire, one of the greatest empires
of the world. Being the carrier of exceptional architectural ruins,
Hampi has been listed as the World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Hampi
allures myriad number of tourists, owing to its temples, monolithic
sculptures and remarkable monuments. The excellent structure of the
temples reflects the tint of Hindu style of architecture.
Sprawled in the area of about 26 kms, Hampi is akin to an open-air
museum of temples. The hoary ambience of this site gets enhanced with
its rugged setting. Hampi is also an important pilgrimage center for
both the Hindus and the Jains. It is believed that it was the place
known as 'Kishkindha' (stated in Ramayana), where Lord Hanuman was born.
Situated on the banks of Tungabhadra River, Hampi houses the renowned
Virupaksha and Vitthala Temples of India.
Virupaksha Temple is the most famous shrine at Hampi. Also known as
Pampapathi Temple, the shrine is completely untouched by the destruction
that was seen by many monuments in the 16th century. Virupaksha Temple
has three towers, where the eastern tower rises to 160 feet with nine
tiers. The temple traces its origin in the first half of the fifteenth
century; however it was refurbished by Krishnadevaraya in the 16th
The temple is dedicated to Virupaksheshwara (Pampapathi - a form of Lord
Shiva). Pampa, who is believed to be the daughter of Brahma, is the
divine consort of Virupaksha. There is an ornamented shrine that is
dedicated to Bhuvaneswari. There is also a shrine presiding Vidyaranya,
the spiritual founder of Vijayanagar. In the inner prakaram, there are
shrines and pillars that date back to the 12th century. The temple walls
are adorned with manifested images of Shiva and Vishnu.
The murals depict various scenes from the epics of Ramayana and
Mahabharata. In the close proximity of Virupaksha Temple, one can see
numerous ruined mandapams. This place used to be the affluent market and
shopping center of the largest Hindu empire. The famous monolith
structure of Ugra Narasimha or Lakshmi Narasimha is to be found near
this temple. Every year in February, Chariot festival is celebrated here
with full gusto and fervor.
Vitthala Temple is considered as the most impressive and most ornate of
all the temples at Hampi. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord
Vitthala (form of Lord Vishnu). The foreground of the sanctum is made by
the 'mahamandapam' (pillared hall), which is tremendously ornamented.
Its pedestal is engraved with friezes of the swan, the horse and the
warrior. At breaks, there are projections carved with reliefs
illustrating the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The flight of steps on
the east of hall is bordered by an elephant handrail.
The portico is adorned with forty pillars, where each group of columns
comprises a central pillar with lean duct around. In the center of hall,
there are sixteen pillars festooned with images of Narsimha and Yali.
Highly intricate sculptural work can also be traceable on the ceiling of
Mahamandapam. Vitthala Temple is celebrated for its much famed stone
chariot. The stone wheels of this chariot are twisted in the form of a
lotus. As a matter of fact, these wheels are fully competent in
revolving. The artistic structure of this chariot reflects the
noteworthy creativity of the artisans of the fifteenth century.