Set in an awesome boulder-strewn landscape along the banks of the Tungabhadra River, Hampi was the capital city of the magnificent capital of the mighty Vijayanagara Empire. Founded by Harihara and Bukka in 1336, it fell to the Muslim rulers of the Deccan in 1565, and the city was pillaged over a period of six months before being abandoned. The once-proud city of victory is now a city of desolation. However, the ruins of these historical monuments have withstood the ravages of man and time, and still evoke memories of the grandeur of a bygone era.
Classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this historic town is also the “World’s Largest Open-air Museum” and covers an area of nearly 29 sq km. Vijayanagara Empire at its peak was very prosperous and was believed to be larger than Rome with palaces grander than of Lisbon “The city is such that the pupil of the eye has never seen a place like it, and the ear of intelligence has never been informed that there existed anything to equal it in the world”, marvelled a 15th century Persian ambassador Abdul Razaak. There were opulent palaces, marvelous temples, massive fortifications, baths, markets, aquaducts, pavilions, stables for royal elephants, and elegantly carved pillars. This was a city whose merchants traded in diamonds, pearls, horses, fine silks and brocades.
Most of the important structures and ruins are located in two areas, which are generally referred to as the Royal Centre and the Sacred Centre. The Royal Centre in the south-west part of the site contains structures that seem to have been palaces, baths, pavilions, royal stables and temples for ceremonial use. The Sacred Centre stretches around the Virupaksha Temple and the Hampi Bazaar area and is along the banks of the holy Tungabhadra River.
The ruins of Hampi are extensive and fascinating enough to absorb your attention for several days.
The best way to experience this UNESCO World Heritage Site is to take a leisurely stroll through the eloquent ruins or take a bicycle/ bike ride. If you are hard-pressed for time, a day or two will suffice to see all the important structures. However, photography, archaeology buffs, yoga enthusiasts should plan on staying a little longer.
When to go:
The monsoon (July-September) and winter (November-February).
In January-February check out the legendary Virupaksha Temple Car Festival and the annual Purandaradasa Aradhana Music Festival at Vittala Temple.
Office of the Deputy Director
Department of Tourism
Near Lotus Mahal, Kamalapura, Hospet