Top 10 Intriguing Places in Hampi
Guest writer – Rohit Agarwal
Situated in the southern state of Karnataka, Hampi is one of the oldest towns in the country. Situated along the river Tungabhadra it is home to some of the oldest temples and ruins of an ancient civilization, making it an intriguing place to visit. Declared as a Heritage site by UNESCO, the best time of the year to visit is October to February. The monsoon period is also possible, but more care will be needed when walking across the boulders. Just avoid summer when it will be very hot and uncomfortable for walking and exploring.
Here are just 10 of the top destinations in Hampi which you surely shouldn’t miss.
According to legends as well as a number of archaeologists, Virupaksha temple located on the banks of Tungabhadra river is one of the longest running temples.
It has been operating continuously since the 7th century. One of the holiest temples in the area, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and its carvings, as well as designs are breathtaking. Some parts of this monument have undergone damage during the wars of 1565, but most of it has been renovated and restored to its natural glory.
Birthplace of Lord Hanuman, this temple is situated at one of the most serene locations in the district. Located at around 5 kilometers from the town the temple houses a carved statue of Lord Hanuman, alongside the statues of Lord Ram and Sita. One has to cross a small river and then climb up the granite steps to reach this temple of worship. Quick tip-beware of numerous monkey’s present in the area as they can become a hazard.
As you stand at the entrance of Virupaksha Temple, you will see a kilometer-long street ahead. This street lined by domes on both sides is the Hampi Bazaar, or as some call it the Virupaksha Bazaar. This street which was previously a place for nobles to reside has now been taken over by local traders or poor people for shelter. Here you can find some artifacts belonging to the ancient era combined with some finely made bags and shawls.
Another majestic part of the Hampi complex, the Queen’s bath will amaze you with its clever and intricate design. Located on the south end of the complex, this bath has a stone carved pool which according to historians was once filled with water and flowers. Outside, you will find a water channel leading into the bath, which can only be crossed via a bridge. An effective way to keep intruders from entering this area. There are numerous small balconies as well as windows on the side of the pool, each of which has been designed with intricate detail.
Vijaya Vittala Temple
A treat for lovers of architecture, Vittala temple located in Hampi is guaranteed to amaze. Believed to have been constructed in the 15th century it is just one of numerous other temples and pavilions in the vicinity making it more of a complex than a single structure. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, one of the main attractions is the stone chariot located outside the temple entrance. Up until the recent renovations the stone wheels could still be rotated but have now been cemented to avoid damage.
These ruins on the riverside gorge are of prime interest for photographers and historians as they depict some of the most intriguing forms of art and design. From the outside is a 15 foot tall building with numerous shelters alongside. On entry you’ll discover both 108 and 1008 Shiva lingas (complex symbols of Shiva) carved into the ground considered holy according to Hindu culture. As you move further, you will find the stone statue of a reclining Lord Vishnu followed by the shrines of other gods.
The architecture of this temples is unusual as it has been constructed below ground level and hence is regularly covered in water. Located across from the main entrance of Hampi complex there are stairs leading down to a holy shrine. Dedicated to Lord Shiva this temple, built in the 14th century, makes it one of the oldest temples in Hampi. Whilst not the easiest of the temples to access due to it almost always being covered in at least 2 feet of water its location means that it is one of the least damaged. Surrounded by lush green lawns makes it an ideal location to sit and relax.
A great place to learn about the history of the Hampi ruins, the Archaeological museum is a must visit for anyone wishing to gain a better understanding. Consisting of ancient artifacts and coins this museum is divided into four sections, which displaying examples of art, textiles, armory utilized by this ancient civilization.
If you wish to get the complete view of the Hampi district, then Hemakuta Hills is your place to be. According to the myths it’s on this hill that Lord Siva (the god of destruction) did penance before marrying a local girl Pampa. Hemakuta Hill features a scattering of early ruins, including monolithic sculptures of Narasimha (Vishnu in his man-lion incarnation) and Ganesh. With splendid views over Hampi it’s an ideal spot to watch the sunset.
Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
One of the most intriguing structures in the Hampi district is the Lakshmi Narasimha temple, which impresses with its humungous size. The structure which depicts one of the Lord Vishnu’s forms has been beautifully carved out of stone and shows the Lord sitting with his legs crossed.
This is just a taste of what is on offer at Hampi. It’s a vast site that requires several days to do it justice. Already in awe? Wait till you see it.
Rohit is a history lover and writer. Knowledge about civilizations and ancient culture interest him, and he wishes to uncover some of the deepest hidden secrets in the face of Earth. You can reach him at http://www.transindiatravels.com/