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Discovering the Historical Delights of Hampi

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Once the capital of the great Vijaynagara empire, also blessed to have witnessed the legendary epic Ramayan, home to some of India’s spectacular temples which are no less than an engineering marvel, the city of Hampi is a wonder in its own. Even today, Hampi stands out unique with the kind of architectural magic it holds, preserving India’s rich and cultural heritage.

Let's take a look at the different historical heritage monuments that make Hampi so special.

- Temples in Hampi

1. Virupaksha Temple

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The Virupaksha temple is one of the oldest and most popular temples in Hampi. Located on the banks of river Tungabhadra, this beautiful temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Believed to be built by Lokahamadevi, the wife of Vikramaditya II to commemorate the King's success in a battle over the Pallavas of Kanchi in the 7th century. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is built in the south indian architectural style. The temple has three gopurams, the eastern gopuram being the largest. The eastern gopuram has nine storeys and stands 50 meters tall. Many stunning sculptures of hindu gods and goddesses adorn the outer face of the gopurams. The walls are beautifully decorated with ornate stone work. The main deity is lord Virupaksha, a form of lord shiva but the temple is also abode to few other hindu deities too. The striking feature of the temple are the pillared halls, which are said to be built by Krishnadevraya during his reign. He built the central pillared hall ‘Maharanga Mandapam’ during his time. He is considered to be a major contributor in the development of the temple.

2. Vittala Temple

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Considered as the epicenter of Hampi, the vittala temple is the most well known and celebrated architectural masterpiece of Hampi. It is a marvel in its own way. The temple is dedicated to vitthal, a form of lord Vishnu. Originally built in the 15th century, many successive kings thereafter enhanced the temple complex during their regimes. The highlight of the temple is its incredible and highly impressive musical pillars and the widely known stone chariot, which is in fact a shrine built in the form of a chariot. Garuda - the vehicle of lord Vishnu, its image was originally enshrined within its sanctum. It is referred as a monolithic structure but in reality it is built using giant granite stones. In front of the chariot two elephants are placed and they seem like they’re pulling the chariot. Originally there were two horses carved in that position. Moving ahead of the chariot, one reaches the Maha-Mantapa(the Great hall). The main highlight of the Maha-Mantapa are the delicately carved giant monolithic pillars. The outermost of these pillars are popularly known as musical pillars. These giant carved pillars emit musical tones when tapped, indeed a true architectural marvel.

3. Lakshmi Narasimha Temple

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Dedicated to lord Vishnu’s fourth avatar, lord Narasimha (half-man, half-lion incarnation). This is the biggest monolithic statue is Hampi, a breathtaking view for visitors as it would be full of curiosity as to how beautifully and delicately they have carved it way back in 1528 without any help of technology. It was built during the reign of Krishnadevaraya. The statue is also referred to as ‘Ugra Narasimha’ that is Narasimha in its terrifying form. The original statue had an image of goddess Lakshmi, consort of lord Vishnu sitting on his lap trying to pacify his anger. The statue has been severely damaged during the attacks of islamic invaders leading to the end of Vijayanagara empire. A large part of goddess lakshmi is missing, only the goddess’s hands are visible if you take a closer look. The nails and rings on her fingers are done with perfection.

- Historical places related to Ramayan

1. Anjaneya Hill

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One of the most sacred places in Hampi, this hill is the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. Lord Hanuman was born to mother Anjana and thus Hanuman ji is also known as Anjaneya and thus the hill is named as Anjaneyadri (Anjaneya’s hill). The hill can be easily spotted from a distance with the temple located on the hilltop in white trail of steps zigzagging all the way to the top. The story of Ramayan is recited here daily. The idol of lord Hanuman is carved on the rock. There is also a small shrine of lord Ram and lady sita in the temple. Apart from this, the hilltop gives a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding area. It takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour to reach the hilltop, make sure you carry snacks and water before climbing as there are no shops at the top.

A surreal place filled with devotion that gives you inner peace and makes you happier.

2. Sugriv Cave

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Located near the shore of river Tungabhadra, this cave is a naturally formed cave by huge boulders leaning one over the other. This cave has great historic significance as this is the place where Lord Ram met Sugriv along with Lakshman and Lord Hanuman in the search of Sita. This makes this historic cave a very holy location. Number of carved footprints can be seen on the floor that depicts footprints of Lord Ram and Lakshman.

3. Rishimukh Hill

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Rishimukh is a historic and sacred place for Hindus as this place is mentioned in the epic Ramanayan. This is the place where Lord Hanuman met Lord Ram and Lakshman for the first time. It holds great significance and faith among people regarding this place. The other attraction of the hill is the Chandramouleshwara temple. You can also see the ruins of the ancient bridge from this temple. The view of the hill is a visual treat when viewed across the river.

To conclude, Hampi is a wonder in its own way and attracts tourists with religious, architectural and history lovers in huge numbers to experience the magic of this ancient city. Join us in exploring this ancient historical city in our backpacking trips.

- By Shubham Chodankar