Make a spectacular and sprawling medieval capital city on the lunar surface. Make everything with rocks in all imaginable carvings and shapes.
You call it Hampi.
1. HOW OFTEN DOES LORD RAMA VISIT YOUR PLACE?
According to the Ramayana, Lord Rama and his brother had visited this region, while looking for Sita. They visited this region to seek help from Vali and Sugreeva, who ruled the region.
2. THE SUGREEVA CAVE.
It is believed that the monkey king, Sugreeva lived here. And it’s the spot where Sita dropped her jewels as a mark when Ravana abducted her. A rock here has the design that the local people believe is similar to that of Sita’s saree.
3. THE RUINS OF HAMPI ARE A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE.
Sadly, today, Hampi is in the list of “UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Danger”. It was inscribed in the endangered list in the year 1999, following the proposal and construction of the controversial suspension bridge on river Tungabhadra.
4. THE HAMPI MONUMENTS ARE SO OLD, EVEN YOUR GREAT GRANDPARENTS WEREN’T PROBABLY BORN THEN!
Popular for their carvings, they date back to the 14th Century.
5. THE RUINS AND MONUMENTS ARE SPREAD OVER AN AREA OF 26 SQUARE KILOMETRES.
Whoooaaa! Now, that is something.
6. VIJAYANAGARA’S MAIN COIN MINT IS SAID TO BE LOCATED IN HAMPI.
The coinage was made of gold, silver and copper coins with pictures of gods, animals, birds, etc. The ruins of the mint can be seen inside the walled enclosure at the west of the royal enclosure.
7. THE TIME WHEN SOMEONE SET FOOT HERE IS UNIMAGINABLE, INDEED.
The first historical record of settlement in Hampi dates back to 1 CE. Whoa!
8. HAMPI IS SAID TO BE A TRUE CONNOTATION OF THE HINDU CULTURE AND ITS RICHES.
The Hazra Rama Temple Complex is known for its frescoes from the Hindu religion. It has over a thousand carvings and inscriptions depicting the story of Ramayana.
9. BESIDES ITS RICH ARCHITECTURAL AND HISTORICAL BEAUTY, IT HAS A PLACE FOR THE MARINES TOO.
The Malyavanta Raghunathaswamy Temple here is believed to flaunt peculiar motifs of fish and marine creatures.
10. HAMPI IS HOME TO ONE OF THE OLDEST FUNCTIONING TEMPLES IN INDIA. WHAT’S BETTER IS THAT IT HAS A 100-COLUMN PILLARED HALL IN THE COURTYARD.
The Virupaksha Temple also known as the Pampavathi Temple rises over 120 feet. Apart from the sculptures of Lord Shiva, this temple also contains shrines of the erotica statues Bhuvaneshwari and Pampa.
Virupaksha actually means ‘the one with oblique eye’. This refers to Lord Shiva, as he has three eyes. It has been estimated that this temple has been functioning ever since 7th century AD uninterruptedly.
11. SOME OF THE MOST UNIQUE SIGHT SEEING PLACES CAN BE FOUND HERE.
The triple-headed Nandi, the shoe store (1 rupee per pair) etc stand testimony to this fact.
12. THEN THERE IS THE NAUGHTY ELEPHANT, WHICH IS TRULY IDIOSYNCRATIC!
On entering the second tower (gopura) on your left side in the Virupaksha Temple; you would see the temple’s most important inmate, the little naughty elephant. Give a one-rupee coin (the elephant will take it from you with its trunk) and you get a smooch on the head in return, as a blessing.
13. IT IS THE PERFECT BLEND OF SCIENCE AND NATURE.
Behind the main sanctum in the temple is a flight of steps leads to the rear exit of the temple complex. Just before the exit on the right side, you would find a dark chamber with a slit on the wall. When the sun rays pass through the slit and fall on the western wall, you can see the inverted image of the main tower as a shadow in the image. Usually, there is a bit of crowd to see the optical feast.
14. YOU WILL TRUST ME WHEN I SAY THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PLACES IN THE WORLD. MYTHOLOGICALLY, HISTORICALLY, RELIGIOUSLY. WHAT NOT!
Yes, the Hemakuta Hill. Myth has it that it’s on this hill that Lord Shiva did penance before marrying his consort, a local girl who impressed him by her earnestness for him.
Also, this is the place where he burnt Kama (the God of lust) with his third (fire) eye. Hence, a number of temples in this area are dedicated to Lord Shiva.
15. THE GIANT MONOLITHIC STATUE AT HAMPI IS DEFINITELY A WORTHY SIGHT.
Lord Ganesha is known for his love for food. One day, he ate so much food that his tummy almost was almost bursting. So, he just caught a snake and tied it around his tummy as a belt to save it from bursting.
On this statue, you can see the snake around his tummy. Also, he holds the goad, pasha (noose), and his broken tusk. The hand which holds modak (a kind of sweet ball) is broken and not reconstructed. This monolithic statue carved out of a huge boulder measures about 2.4 meters (8 feet). An open pavilion is build around the statue. According to inscriptions found nearby, this pavilion was built by a trader from Chandragiri (in present day Andhra Pradesh) in 1506 AD, in memory of one of the Vijayanagara kings – Narasimha II (1491-1505 AD).
16. THE CORACLE CROSSINGS. THE LESSER SAID, THE BETTER!
What’s a coracle? A country boat to cross the river. Basket is a more appropriate word than boat. They are huge flat basketlike crafts to ferry people & sheep (yes sheep!). About 6 feet in diameter, coracles are made of bamboo, cane, plastic sheets and a fine coating of bitumen. On an average a coracle takes about 6-8 people.
At Hampi, there are three places where you would find the coracle crossing – near the Virupaksha temple, Kondarama temple and the Vittala temple.
17. THE MALYANTHA HILL HAS SOMETHING INCREDULOUS ETCHED IN IT.
Located almost at the south fringes of the ruins, it has a temple dedicated to Lord Rama at its summit. Rama and Lakskmana waited here during the rainy season before raiding Lanka. The cleft on top of the hill is believed to have been caused by Lakshmana’s arrow.
18. ACCORDING TO THE STATISTICS OF 2014, HAMPI IS THE MOST SEARCHED HISTORICAL PLACE IN KARNATAKA ON GOOGLE.
19. ONE OF THE MOST REMARKABLE STRUCTURES IN HAMPI IS THE ‘ZENANA CLOSURE’.
The highlight of this place is the Kamal Mahal (Lotus Mahal) which was a fortified and secluded area reserved for the royal ladies of the Vijayanagara Empire in the past.
20. AND THEN, THE HAMPI BAZAAR IS THE CHERRY ON THE CAKE.
This quaint marketplace spreads for more than one kilometer. The road passing through the market has series of old pavilions on both sides.
Apart from the items on offer the Hampi Bazaar is also a place where one can enjoy lovely morning strolls before the hustle-bustle of shopping starts for the day.
21. OHH, LET’S GIVE IT A DECENT CLIMAX – THE SAREGAMA PILLARS.
One of the most attractive structures in Hampi is the Vittala Temple. This ancient temple is known for its splendid architecture. However, the temple is also known for another special quality.
It has 56 musical pillars. These pillars, when tapped gently, produce musical sounds. The most interesting fact is that the pillars are made from solid stone and are not hollow inside.
Though many facts about this fascinating place have been lost with the passage of time, the ruined village still attracts people with its rich history.
Picture Courtesy: Kishore Nagarigari