Hampi is a small village on the banks of the Tungabhadra river in Karnataka. The kings of the Vijayanagara kingdom built a magnificent capital here in the fourteenth century. They named their capital
Hampi is a small village on the banks of the Tungabhadra river in Karnataka. The kings of the Vijayanagara kingdom built a magnificent capital here in the fourteenth century. They named their capital "Vijayanagara" which means city of victory. But the city also had another name - Vidyanagara, after a religious man named Vidyaranya. The ruins of the ancient city of Vijayanagara are spread over an area of about 25 sq km, covering many villages. The main monuments, however, are located between the villages of Kamalapuram and Hampi.
The kingdom of Vijayanagara came up in the early fourteenth century. It was founded by two brothers named Harihara and Bukka, who set up an independent kingdom after challenging the might of the Delhi sultans who were busy building up their own empire in the north. The two brothers founded a dynasty known as the Sangama dynasty. Other dynasties that ruled from Vijayanagara were the Saluva and Tuluva dynasties. We have descriptions of the grandeur of this city in the writings of foreign travelers - Italians, Portuguese, Persians, and others - who visited it. In 1565, the king of Vijayanagara was defeated in a battle at Talikota, and that even led to the decline of this great city.
The kings of Vijayanagara had chosen the spot for their capital well. The city had a good supply of water in the Tungabhadra river which flowed through a rocky area to the north. In ancient times, the Tungabhadra was known as the Pampa. The green, fertile valley provided good land for farming. In fact, these advantages were recognized by much earlier people. Neolotithic stone tools and hand-made pottery have been found in the area around Hampi, and this proves that stone age people lived here. Rock inscriptions of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka have also been found nearby. This shows that this area was included in the empire of the Mauryan kings.
Vijayanagara is an exciting site which has aroused the interest of many archaeologists and historians from different parts of the world. Some archaeologists have concentrated an excavating parts of the site, and finding out what lies buried under the earth. Others have carefully explored and examined the ruins and artifacts found on the surface of the ground. Over the years, the area has been cleared carefully of shrubs and rocks, and steps have been taken to protect the many buildings, sculptures and inscriptions found at the site.
Vijayanagara was a large, sprawling city with different parts. To south of the river was the main temple area. South of this were the irrigated agricultural fields. To the south of this was the main city area. And south and west of this were a number of smaller settlements, suburbs that were linked to the main city. Most of the people lived in the main city area. Here, archaeologists found remains of buildings of different kinds including houses and temples, wells, pottery and lots of other artifacts. The main city area was protected by fortification walls with gateways, from which guards could keep careful watch. Within the city there was a place area, where the king and his family lived. This was protected by its own wall, much of which today lies crumbled.
There were many temples, some big, some small, in the city of Vijayanagara. One of the biggest and most beautiful ones is the Virupaksha temple, dedicated to the god Shiva. Some of the temples have beautiful sculptures. The sculptures often show scenes about the gods and goddesses. But there are many other sculptures that show soldiers, dancers, animals, birds, acrobats, etc.. The inscriptions on temple walls tell us about different groups in society that helped in the building of the temples.
Although the buildings of the city are in ruins, we can identify the floors and parts of some buildings where the king and members of his court may have lived. Here, archaeologists found delicate Chinese pottery and many fine sculptures. One of the buildings nearby may have been used for public ceremonies and another may have been the king's audience hall. A beautiful stepped tank was found, with careful arrangements for the supply and exit of water. Some of the buildings have been identified as houses where the nobles lived.
Do archaeologists always know what the buildings at a site were used for?
No, they aren't always sure. At Vijayanagara, for example, there are many buildings that have been understood in different ways. There is one building that has been understood in different ways - as a palace, as the king's bedroom, or as a room where the king met his advisers. Another building with a tank in the center has also been interpreted in different ways - as the king's bathing area, the queen's bathing area or as a place where important festivals were held. A building near the elephants' stables has been differently interpreted as the treasury, a general office, a concert room and a guards' room! Another building that some scholars described as a mint where coins were made is now considered to be a part of the king's palace.
Vijayanagara was not only a city of kings and nobles. Apart from the remains of fortification walls and gateways, palaces, temples and sculptures, there are many other sorts of remains at Vijayanagara. There are the remains of simple, ordinary homes. There are rods and bridges. There are workshops where skilled craftsmen made things. There are quarries from which raw materials were dug out. There are irrigation systems such as canals, wells and tanks. Many social groups lived in the city - craftsmen, traders, soldiers, labourers, etc.. Pottery-making, iron-working, sculpture-making and lime-making were some of the important specialized crafts of the city. Some people were settled permanently in the city. Others such as pilgrims who came to visit the temples, farmers who tilled the land outside the city, and busy merchants buying and selling goods of different kinds, may have moved in and out of the city.
Hampi or Vijayanagara has been recognized by the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as a World Heritage Site. This means that it is considered one of the most important and precious sites in the world. Archaeologists are still studying the remains of Hampi and the surrounding area. Maps, photographs and drawings of the remains have been made and continue to be made. Archaeologists are trying to find out more about life in the city of Vijayanagara and about the connections between Vijayanagara and the other cities and villages of south India.
Between late October and the middle of March, when the weather is not too hot. To see the sites in Hampi, you have to take some long walks where there is absolutely no shade or cover
Hampi, Tungabhadra river, Vijayanagara kingdom, Vijayanagara, Kamalapuram, brothers Harihara and Bukka, Sangama dynasty, Saluva dynastie, Tuluva dynastie, battle at Talikota, Pampa, Neolotithic stone tools, Virupaksha temple, king's audience hall, Chinese pottery, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, World Heritage Site
Most people take a bus or taxi to Hampi Bazaar from Hospet, then walk to the Vitthala Temple. They then walk south to the Palace complex and either walk back to Hampi Bazaar or to the village of Kamalapuram. You could also get off the bus at Kamalapuram and visit the site museum first, then the palace area, then head north to Hampi Bazaar, then walk to the Vitthala Temple. This would be my preference.
It is possible to see all the sites in one day. You could take a bus to Kamalapuram and then hire a bicycle. You could then ride to Hampi Bazaar, stopping at the Palace Complex on the way, and walk along the river to the Vitthala Temple (leaving your bike at the bazaar). You could then ride back to Kamalapuram, stopping at the shrine of Ugra Narasimha on the way.
To rent a bike in Hampi Bazaar costs Rs 5 per hour, and in Kamalapuram Rs 3 per hour. Seeing everything in one day requires that you cover about 6km, which can be rough in the hot sun. You can rent an auto-rickshaw (Rs 250 for 5 hr) or a taxi (Rs 400 for 5 hr) to take you around the sites.
The town of Anegundi is believed by the local people to be the ancient place known as Kishkindha, where Rama met Sugriva and Hanuman. Also by Hampi is the Rsimukha Mountain, mentioned in the Ramayana.
The ancient Kishkindha was ruled by the monkey chiefs Sugriva and Vali. After a quarrel with Vali, Sugriva and Hanuman were driven out. They went to live at Matanga-parvata Hill. You can get a view of the surrounding area from the top of this hill. While searching for Sita, whom Ravana had kidnapped, Rama and Laksman came south and met Sugriva and Hanuman. Rama killed Vali and restored Sugriva to his kingdom. While Hanuman went to search for Sita, it is said that Rama stayed at Malyavanta Hill, on the road to Kampili, about 6km east of the Virupaksha Temple. There is a Raghunath Temple there now with a large Deity of Rama.
On the way between the Virupaksha Temple and the Vitthala Temple there is a cave on the bank of the Tungabhadra, where Sugriva is said to have hidden Sita’s jewels for safety. There are marks and streaks on the rocks said to have been made by Sita’s garments.
There is a huge mound of scorched ash in the nearby village of Nimbapuram said to be the cremated remains of Vali. Hanuman’s birthplace is said to be a little to the northwest.
The Virabhadra Temple is at Matanga Hill, where Lord Rama is said to have stayed. From on top of Matanga Hill, you have a good view of the area.
In the village of Anantashayangudi, 1.6km from Hospet on the way to Kamalapuram, there is a large Vishnu temple built around 1524. The main vimana (tower over the Deity) is about 24m high.
The town of Anegundi is about 5km from Hampi on the other side of the Tungabhadra River. The locals believe that this is the ancient place known as Kishkindha, where Rama met Sugriva and Hanuman. There are 5,000-year-old Cave Temples here.
To get here, follow the path pass the Vitthala temple along the Tungabhadra. Take a boat across the river to Anegundi. On the other side of the river, walk straight up the hill to the village.
From there, ask directions, first going to the Durga Temple, then further up the hill to the caves. You can hire a certified guide at the Hampi Tourist Office to take you here (Rs 100 off-season, Rs 400 in season).
Only basic accommodations are available in Hampi. To get a good place you have to stay in Hospet. Many backpackers stay in Hampi for long periods, many of them going to or from Goa. It has a peaceful atmosphere. The decent places here are usually full, so it is usually best to stay in Hospet, about 13km away, unless you are going to be staying for more than a few days.
Shanthi Guest House, Hampi Bazaar, has basic rooms for Rs 80/125 (Rs 175 in December and January). It has a clean, common toilet and its own garden area. To get here, walk toward the Virupaksha Temple and turn right.
Nearby is the Sri Rama Lodge in which the beds take up most of the small rooms. Rooms with bath are Rs 75/125.
Also basic is the Rahul Guest House, on the left as you enter Hampi Bazaar from Hospet. Room are Rs 125/150. Nearby is the Ranjana Guest House, which has clean rooms with bath for Rs 350.
Really basic is the Lakshmi Guest House, with mattresses on the floor. You have to walk a few minutes to the toilet, and you should bring your own lock. Rooms are Rs 75/100.
Vikki Guest House, behind the Tourist Office, has rooms with a fan for Rs 150. It has decently clean common baths.
Besides these places, many people will offer rooms in their homes. These are usually basic and may consist simply of a small room with a mattress on the floor and a bathroom shared with the family.
Hotel Mayura Bhuvaneswari, Kamalapuram, is 500m to the left of the Kamalapuram bus stand, down a road on the right. Rooms are large, clean, and modern. Rooms with hot water are Rs 300/350 and Rs 400/450 with A/C. They rents bicycles for Rs 30 a day.
Inspection Bungalow (Power House Guest House) is located at the southern part of the ruins at Kamalapuram, about 3km from Hampi Bazaar.
Mayura Vijayanagar Hotel, at Tungabhadra Dam, 17km from Hampi, is a good place but is inconveniently located. Rooms are Rs 250/300. Buses come here regularly from Hospet.
Where to Stay—Across River
If you cross the river near the Virupaksha Temple, there are several places to stay in the area. This is a peaceful laid-back area.
Rasta, near the river, has basic rooms for Rs 90 or you can sleep on the roof for Rs 20.
Gautam has basic rooms with common bath for Rs 125/150 and Rs 250/350 with bath. It huts and clean rooms..
There are other basic places nearby.
Shanti has good rooms with common bath for Rs 125/150 and with bath for Rs 350. relaxed place and rooms and huts.. Has a restaurants that serves good thalis and also pizza.
Hanuman Restaurant, about 2km northeast, has some very basic huts for Rs 70 and rooms for Rs 140. It is a laid-back restaurant. It can be reached by taking a corracle across the river near the ruined bridge.