Heritage of Karnataka, city of Hampi is located 365 kms away from Bangalore and 300 kms away from Dabolim (Goa). This world famous town is near Hospet in Karnataka, South India, on the banks of River Tungabhadra.
It was the glorious capital of the once-powerful Vijayanagar Empire of South India. But today it is known as the “City of Ruins”. Being the land of exceptional architectural ruins, Hampi has been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Hampi attracts countless number of tourists from all over the world to enjoy the monolithic sculptures and remarkable monuments of Hampi Ruins. No amount of words can explain the exceptional beauty of these monuments, the Heritage of Karnataka. Some of these ancient temples in Karnataka are a must visit destination.
During the years of their reign, the mighty Vijayanagar Emperors had built several marvelous temples in the country. The sultanates of Delhi invaded them and defeated them during the disastrous Battle of Talikota in 1565. It thus brought the end of last great Hindu kingdom in South India. The Moguls destroyed the Hindu temples mercilessly. The once-proud city of victory is now a city of desolation.
Today Hampi stands as a city of ruins with its glorious past being the world’s largest Open Air Museum, attracting endless number of tourists, to see the Heritage of Karnataka.
The attractions of Hampi are the King’s Palace, two ancient temples of Karnataka (Vithala Temple and Virupaksha Temple), Ganesha Images, the monolith of Lakshmi Narasimha, Badavilinga, Elephant Stables, Pushkarni, Lotus Mahal, Hazara Rama Temple, Mahanavami Dibba, Queen’s Bath, and Anegundi fortress which is 15 kms away.
The most impressive of temples at Vijayanagar is the Vithala temple, along the Tungabhadra river. The highlight of Vitala temple is its impressive pillared halls and the stone chariot standing in the temple courtyard.
The temple is built in the form of a sprawling campus with compound wall and gateway towers. There are many halls, pavilions and temples located inside this campus. The presiding deity of this temple is Lord Vithala (form of Lord Vishnu).
Its pedestal is engraved with murals of the swan, the horse and the warrior. There are carved projections, illustrating the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Forty pillars adorn the portico of the temple. In the center of the hall, there are sixteen pillars decorated with images from epics. The sculptural work is highly intricate.
The large Mantapa with 56 musical pillars that resound with musical chimes when struck is highly impressive.
Vithala Temple is famous for its Stone Chariot. The revolving stone wheels of this chariot are twisted in the form of a lotus. The artistic structure of this chariot reflects the noteworthy creativity of the artisans of the fifteenth century. No amount of words can explain the spectacle of Heritage of Karnataka.
Virupaksha temple is also known as Pampapathi temple. The temple is dedicated to Virupaksheshwara (Lord Shiva). Pampa, who is believed to be Brahma’s daughter, is the divine consort of Virupaksha, and hence the name Pampapathi temple.
Though this temple was built in 12th century, it was later renovated by Krishnadevaraya as a big complex, in the 16th century. This majestic temple stands proudly amongst the ruins of temples as a part of Heritage of Karnataka.
The architecture of Virupaksha Temple is also of great beauty. The temple has three towers, where the eastern tower rises to 160 feet with nine tiers.
The ceiling of the main Mantapa is beautifully painted with scenes from the Hindu epics and Puranas. Numerous ruined mandapas are also seen there.
There are other shrines also in the temple. The temple walls are adorned with scenes from the Hindu epics.
This is the only temple that is still used for worship. Annual chariot festival is celebrated here in the month of February, with religious fervor. .
Kamalapura Museum is located next to the Hampi, showcasing Hampi's past Vijayanagar period, established by Archaeological Survey of India, 40 years ago. The Museum also exhibits many antiquities identified with prehistoric and medieval periods, such as hero stones, Sati stones, stucco figurines, metal and porcelain objects discovered. Various denominations of gold and copper coins, objects of religious significance, war weapons, brass plates etc. are also there. At the entrance is the life-size statue of Emperor Krishnadevaraya with his queens Chinnadevi and Thirumaladevi.
Also exhibited in the Museum is a miniature model of Hampi valley showing all the sightseeing spots such as Hazara Ramamandira, Kamal Mahal, Queen's Bath, Mahanavami Dibba, Virupaksha Temple surroundings, Mathanga Parvatha etc.
The Museum is open to visitors from 10 am - 5 p.m. (Friday holiday).
The nearest airport to Hampi is Bellary (60km/ 37miles) and Hubli (170km/106miles). Other airports are Belgaum (190 km/188 miles) and Bangalore, the Capital of Karnataka, is 350 km/ 217 miles.
Hampi is also connected with rail and roads.
Train: Hampi Express and Bangalore to Hospet Passenger train.