Hampi, Karnataka

#Historical and Heritage #Nature and Scenic #Pilgrimage




Hampi, also referred to as the Group of Monuments at Hampi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in east-central Karnataka, India. It became the centre of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire capital in the 14th-century. Chronicles left by Persian and European travellers, particularly the Portuguese, state Hampi as a prosperous, wealthy and grand city near the Tungabhadra River, with numerous temples, farms and trading markets. By 1500 CE, Hampi-Vijayanagara was the world's second-largest medieval-era city after Beijing, and probably India's richest at that time, attracting traders from Persia and Portugal.

Hampi ruins are spread over 4,100 hectares (16 sq mi) and has been described by UNESCO as an "austere, grandiose site" of more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India that includes "forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures, water structures and others". Hampi predates the Vijayanagara Empire; there is evidence of Ashokan epigraphy, and it is mentioned in the Ramayana and the Puranas of Hinduism as Pampaa Devi Tirtha Kshetra. Hampi continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple, an active Adi Shankara-linked monastery and various monuments belonging to the old city.


The Hampi site has been studied in three broad zones; the first has been named the "sacred centre" by scholars such as Burton Stein and others; the second is referred to as the "urban core" or the "royal centre"; and the third constitutes the rest of metropolitan Vijayanagara. The sacred centre, alongside the river, contains the oldest temples with a history of pilgrimage and monuments pre-dating the Vijayanagara empire. The urban core and royal centre have over sixty ruined temples beyond those in the sacred centre, but the temples in the urban core are all dated to the Vijayanagara empire. The urban core also includes public utility infrastructure such as roads, an aqueduct, water tanks, mandapa, gateways and markets, monasteries This distinction has been assisted by some seventy-seven stone inscriptions.

Most of the monuments are Hindu; the temples and the public infrastructure such as tanks and markets include reliefs and artwork depicting Hindu deities and themes from Hindu texts. There are also six Jain temples and monuments and a Muslim mosque and tomb. The architecture is built from the abundant local stone; the dominant style is Dravidian, with roots in the developments in Hindu arts and architecture in the second half of the 1st millennium in the Deccan region. It also included elements of the arts that developed during the Hoysala Empire rule in the south between the 11th and 14th century such as in the pillars of Ramachandra temple and ceilings of some of the Virupaksha temple complex. The architects also adopted an Indo-Islamic style in a few monuments, such as the Queen's bath and Elephant stables, which UNESCO says reflects a "highly evolved multi-religious and multi-ethnic society".


Hindu Monuments

  1. Virupaksha temple and market complex: The Virupaksha temple is the oldest shrine, the principal destination for pilgrims and tourists, and remains an active Hindu worship site. The temple faces eastwards, aligning the sanctums of the Shiva and Pampa Devi temples to the sunrise; a large gopuram marks its entrance. The superstructure is a pyramidal tower with pilastered storeys on each of which is artwork including erotic sculptures. 
  2. Krishna temple, market, Narasimha and linga: The Krishna temple, also called Balakrishna temple, on the other side of Hemakuta hill, is about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) south of Virupaksha temple. The temple opens to the east; it has a gateway with reliefs of all ten avatars of Vishnu starting with Matsya at the bottom. Inside is the ruined temple for Krishna and small, ruined shrines for goddesses. The temple compound is layered into mandapas, including an outer and an inner enclosure. South of the Krishna temple's exterior are two adjacent shrines, one containing the largest monolithic Shiva Linga and the other with the largest monolithic Yoga-Narasimha avatar of Vishnu in Hampi. The 3 metres (9.8 ft) Shiva Linga stands in water in a cubical chamber and has three eyes sketched on its top. South of this is the shrine for a 6.7 metres (22 ft)-high Narasimha—the man-lion avatar of Vishnu—seated in a yoga position. The Narasimha monolith originally had goddess Lakshmi with him, but it shows signs of extensive damage and a carbon-stained floor—evidence of attempts to burn the shrine down. The statue has been cleaned and parts of the shrine have been restored.

  3. Achyutaraya temple and market complex: The temple is unusual because it faced north. It is dedicated to Vishnu. In Vijayanagara times, the temple was traditionally approached from the river, first past a ceremonial tank then along the market street with a broad road. The temple had an outer gopuram leading into a courtyard with a 100-column hall and an inner gopuram leading to the Vishnu temple. The temple gateway shows the Vijayanagara dynastic emblems; a boar from Varaha, a sword, the sun and the moon.

  4. Vitthala temple and market complex: It is the most artistically sophisticated Hindu temple in Hampi, and is part of the sacred centre of Vijayanagara. It is unclear when the temple complex was built, and who built it; most scholars date it to a period of construction in the early-to-mid-16th century. The temple was dedicated to Vitthala, a form of Krishna also called Vithoba. The temple opens to the east, has a square plan and features an entrance gopuram with two side gopurams. The main temple stands in the middle of a paved courtyard and several subsidiary shrines, all aligned to the east.

  5. Hemakuta hill monuments: The Hemakuta hill lies between the Virupaksha temple complex to the north and the Krishna temple to the south. It is a collection of modestly sized monuments that are the best-preserved examples of pre-Vijayanagara and early-Vijayanagara temples and construction. The site has several important inscriptions, is easily accessible and provides views of the some parts of Hampi and the fertile, agricultural valley that separates the sacred centre from the urban core with its royal centre.

  6. Hazara Rama temple: This temple was dedicated to Rama of the Ramayana fame, and an avatar of Vishnu. It was the ceremonial temple for the royal family. The temple's outer walls portray the Hindu Mahanavami (Dasara) and the spring Holi festival procession and celebrations in parallel bands of artwork. The lowest band shows marching elephants, above it are horses led by horsemen, then soldiers celebrated by the public, then dancers and musicians, with a top layer depicting a boisterous procession of the general public. 

  7. Kodandarama temple and riverside monuments: It lies near the Tungabhadra River, and is north of Achyutaraya temple. The river banks, considered holy, accommodate a Vijayanagara-era ghat and mandapa facilities for bathing. In front of the temple is a dipa stambha (lighting pillar) under a Pipal tree, and inside is a sanctum dedicated to Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman. Near the river is a rock carved with Shaivism's 1,008 lingas.

  8. Mahanavami platform, public square complex

  9. Water infrastructure

  10. Fountains and community kitchen

  11. Elephant stables and Zenana enclosure


Jain Monuments

  1. Ganagitti temple complex: The Ganigitti Jain temple is near Bhima's gate in the south-east of the urban core section of Hampi. In front of it is a monolithic lamp pillar. The temple faced north; it is dated to 1385 CE, during the rule of Hindu king Harihara II, based on an inscription in the temple. It is dedicated to Tirthankara Kunthunatha and has plain walls, a pillared mandapa and a square sanctum from which the Jina's statue is missing. There are capitals on the pillars and the doorways have decoration. Over the sanctum is a Dravidian-style, narrowing square, pyramidal tower. Other monuments in the temple compound are in ruins.


Muslim Monuments

  1. Ahmad Khan mosque and tomb: There is a Muslim monument in the south-east of the urban core on the road from Kamalapura to Anegondi, before Turuttu canal in the irrigated valley. This monument was first built in 1439 by Ahmad Khan, a Muslim officer in the army of Hindu king Devaraya II. The monuments include a mosque, an octagonal well and a tomb. The mosque lacks a dome and is a pillared pavilion, while the tomb has a dome and arches. Other Muslim monuments and a graveyard were added later near the Ahmad Khan's legacy.




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