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           Hampi

Hampi has an important position among the tourist destinations in South India. A famous stop in a tour of South India, the ruins of the once mighty Vijayanagar Empire have made Hampi one of the most famous tourist spots in India. The ruins have also been declared as a world heritage site by the UNESCO. The ruins are located in the South Indian state of Karnataka, about 460 kilometers North West of Bangalore. The nearest railway station is at Hospet, 13 kms away.

The region has been identified as the legendary Kishkindhya as mentioned in the epic – Ramayana. Hampi is located on the southern banks of the River Tungabhadra. The ruins remind the onlooker of the immense proportions of the Vijayanagar Kingdom which rose in South India during the 14th century. The Kingdom was the only remaining major Hindu power, except the Rajputs, that survived at a time when the Islamic sultanates ruled almost the entire north India and the Deccan. The kingdom survived till the 16th century, perishing to the joint forces of the Deccan sultanates. The city was left desolate and the ruins today narrate the sad story of the sudden fall from grace of one of the most remarkable kingdoms of medieval India.

The name of the place has probably been derived from the Kannada word Hampe which in turn has been derived from Pampa, the old name of the Tungabhadra River. Hampi is most probably an anglicized version of the word Hampe. The temple of Virupaksha, the patron deity of the Vijayanagar rulers, still draws devotees from distant areas. This temple probably predates the Vijayanagar kingdom and is among the major attractions of Hampi even today. It is dedicated to the Goddess Pampa and her consort Shiva. The temple has a 50 meter high gopuram (spire) that is visible from a great distance.

The chief attraction of Hampi is the Vitthala temple. This magnificent temple was enlarged during the reigns of Krishnadeva Raya and Achyuta Raya, two of the most prominent kings of Vijayanagar. The hollow columns of the hall in this temple emit different notes of the octave. The temple also features amazing reliefs and frieze work, displaying various mythological Themes in minute details. A shrine shaped like a chariot is placed in front of the temple and is dedicated to Garuda, the celestial bird.

The other noted features to be seen in Hampi are –

The Krishna temple –
this was built by Krishnadeva Raya in 1516 to commemorate his victory over Orissa.

King’s Balance –
the ruling kings were weighed on this balance with gold or grain. This was a common practice among Indian monarchs at the time.

Elephant stables –
this large building has 11 chambers and was used for the royal elephants. The polygonal shapes of the roofs are unique features of this structure.

Lotus Mahal –
this beautiful temple was probably used as a council chamber by the kings.

Stepped tank –
this magnificent tank was part of an amazing hydraulic system that was used to bring water to the royal quarters.

Queen’s bath –
this was used for the purposes of royal recreation.

The temple of Achyuta Raya, Kodandarama temple, Hazara Ramachandra temple, and the monolithic sculpture of Narasimha are the other attractions of Hampi.

There is an archaeological museum that houses the artifacts discovered from the site. The chariot festival is a major event that is celebrated with fanfare in the bazaar street area every year.

Learn more about Hampi and the other architectural wonders of India in touristplacesinindia.com.

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