‘One of the most sought after UNESCO World Heritage sites in South India’
Hampi, known as ‘THE FORT OF VICTORY – VIJAYANAGARA’, situated on the banks of the river Tungabhadra in the region of Bellary in Karnataka State of South India, is a vast site of monuments and ruins, a mute witness to an era of glories, triumphs and tragedies. The celebrated ruins of Hampi spread over a vast and barren area of 350 sq. kms. Domingo Paes of Portugal enthuses that the Vijayanagara (Hampi was its capital city) of Krishna Deva Raya was “the best provided city in the World.” He proudly continues “you will find men belonging to every nation and people there, because of the great trade which Hampi has.” Hampi’s bazars were well known cosmopolitan marts with a variety of commodities, some indeed exotic, such as quicksilver, saffron, coloured velvets, damasks and precious stones etc. It is amazing to see the remnants of those really big markets still found in Hampi and the Archaeological Survey of India now does a commendable job in restoring the architecture.
17 Rulers belonging to four prominent Dynasties empowered Vijayanagara with its vigour for 230 years. The architecture of the Vijayanagara period achieved a rare brilliance incorporating unique features as an expression of freedom and ideals. The temples of Hampi, built over three centuries were an outcome of later Chalukyan and Jaina style. The Stone Chariot which is used during the annual chariot festival is a unique piece of art and this is kept at Vijaya Vittala Temple, one of the principal monuments of the city.
Virupaksha Temple is the most important temple in Hampi which is still open for worship and a great centre of pilgrimage; this is the core of the village of Humpi. The ruins inside the Royal Centre are amazingly magnificent. The Throne Platform, Royal Palace, Zenana Enclave, ladies quarters from where the king would send for his queens, Lotus Mahal, most impressive ladies bath in octagonal shape, watch towers, elephant stables with distinct Indo-Islamic features are among the interesting fragments of Vijayanagara’s rich architectural heritage. One could even see a beautifully stone carved long dining line where people used to have feast meals during occasions.
Hampi is now a World Heritage Site recognised by the UNESCO. In the 14th century, celebrated Persian admirer Abdur Razak had mentioned in his writings that “the city of Vijayanagara had no equal in the world”.