Most of the important monuments and ruins in Hampi are spread across two ares, namely the Royal Center and the Sacred Center. The Royal Center is in the South West part of the site and contains structures that are mostly palaces, royal baths, pavilions, stables and temples. The Sacred Center lies on the northern edge of the city along the banks of the sacred river Tungabhadra.
Tungabhadra DamThe Tungabhadra River, located about 16km from the main site of Hampi and more towards Hospet, has been formed as a result of the confluence of two rivers like River Thunga and River Bhadra. It takes about 45 minutes to view the Tungabhadra Dam fully. So, it is advisable to take the trip while coming from or leaving for Hospet. The river apart from its natural bounty is also constructed with the purpose of having a multipurpose Dam. Irrigation of land, control and prevention of flood and generation of electricity are some of the important functions that this dam serves.
AnegondiLiterally meaning an elephant pit in Kannada, Anegondi is a small village in Koppal district of Karnataka State, located in the north banks of the Tungabhadra River.
Anecondi has a significant history attached to it. It is said that this was the original capital of the Vijayanagara Empire when Mohammad Tughlaq of Delhi attacked and defeated the King of Anegondi, Jambukeshwara Raya and appointed Malik Nayab to rule the city instead. However, this mighty incident was followed by the miraculous taking over of power by the two bothers Hakka and Bukka under the guidance of Vidyarana, who tactfully imprisoned Malik Nayab when he was fully drunk and hence could avoid any further bloodshed. Later on these two brothers also founded the Vijayanagara City with Anegandi as its capital, which of course had to be shifted northwards in course of time as the country expanded to wide territories.
Queen’s BathLocated in the Royal Center, south of the Hazara Rama temple, this building marks the most elaborate of all baths in the city of Hampi. It is a square structure that is remarkable for the contrast between its simple and plain exterior and intricately carved interior.
Zenana EnclosureThe Zenana Enclosure or the ladies’ quarters were built mainly to ensure solitude and privacy for the royal ladies rather than protection. Fitted with four major structures like the Queen’s palace, the queen’s Bath and two watch towers these hint at the high quality of life that was granted to the women of the royal family in those days. It is within the proximity of the Royal center.
Elephant StablesAn elaborate structure of 11 chambers, the Elephant Stables once was the home of the Royal Elephants. These chambers, located close to the Zenana Enclosure, have an architectural style that resembles the Brahmani school with a façade of arched openings and recesses. The central stable has a ruined brick built upper storey. Five chambers on either side have pyramidal roofs. North of the stables is an arcaded structure, probably a viewing gallery.
Anjanadri ParvathaThe reference to this hill is even found in the famous Epic Ramayana. In fact, the hill derives its name from the fact that Anjana gave birth to Hanumana in any one of the numerous caves in this hill. The famous temple of Hanumana in the peak is inspiring and is worth trekking or climbing up the hill. A view from the hill top reveals the beautiful curls of the river Tungabhadra, reminding one of the famous Kiskindha empire, mentioned in Ramayana
Achyutaraya TempleThe Achyutaraya Temple is a classical example of a religious place built during the reign of King Achyutaraya, this temple is one of the last staggering pieces of architecture built before the fall of Hampi. It has been dedicated to Lord Tiruvengalantha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
This temple can be approached following two different routes. The first one is by taking the staircase beside the monolith Nandi. This route is especially recommended because apart from the Achyutaraya temple it also reveals to the tourists the famous Hanuman Shrine atop the Matanga Hill, the highest peak in and around Hampi. A session of sunset or sunrise from this point is a must see for all nature enthusiasts. The other way is through the “Soolai Bazar
Shri VijayaVitthala TempleThis temple, located 2 km from the Hampi Bazar, has come of age with as much resilience and tenacity as the renown of Hampi itself. The intricate craftsmanship and the explicit work of art that this temple exemplifies, has made it the very face of Hampi. Dedicated to Lord Vitthala or Lord Vishnu, this is perhaps the best piece of architecture that the deity has been offered to in the entire country. Legend has it that the temple was so grand that even Vishnu found it too grand to live in and hence returned to his humble home.
The construction of this temple is supposed to have begun during the reign of the great monarch, Raja Krishnadeva Raya in 10013A.D. However, the magnitude of the project was so enormous that the work of construction had to be continued for the next five decades till the fall of the city itself in 10065A.D.
The VijayaVitthala Temple epitomizes an archetypal South Indian style of architecture that is characteristically Dravidian in nature. There is small a main inner sanctum where the deity idol(s) are placed. This is followed by a bigger outer shrine where the general public is allowed. The temple consists of 56 musical pillars. These are also referred to as the Musical Pillars or SaReGaMa pillars after the seven notes of the Indian Classical Music. This is because when tapped lightly these pillars emit a form of sound.
Stone ChariotIf ever there was a competition between the Gods and men in sculpture and architecture, this Stone Chariot enshrined in the Vijayavitthala Temple in Hampi would surely surpass all divine intervention. The architecture of the Chariot is so true to life that some people are of the opinion that they do rotate. Built out of multiple rocks this exotic piece of art is situated on the eastern wall of the temple. A Chariot in Indian Art is a miniature temple on wheels that is used to take the deities out of the temple.
Hazari Rama TempleAlso referred to as the Hazara Rama temple because of the large number of Ramayana panels on the walls of the temple, this is believed to be the private place of worship by the royal personalities. This is located in the middle of the Royal Center.
This is the only temple in Hampi that has been accessorized with chiseled bas-reliefs in which the entire epic of Ramayana has been encrypted in detail. The bas-reliefs are also famous for encasing the elaborate carvings of the famous episodes of Ramayana like the birth of Rama, the abduction of Sita and the ultimate fight between Rama and Ravana. These reinforce the temple’s reference with the Epic Ramayana.
The boldly carved panels are in five horizontal rows, one above the other, representing a procession of elephants with riders and attendants. These panels symbolically represent the power of the rulers and the might of their fighting forces that paraded annually at the time of the Dusshera festival. The temple exemplifies the expertise and competence of Vijayanagar’s artists thus making them immortals in this field.
Hampi BazaarThis market of Hampi is located in the street that faces the front of the Virupaksha Temple. It holds a special historical significance, as it houses the huge pavilions on both the sides of the street in which the famous diamonds, pearls and precious gems were sold in the Vijayanagara Dynasty. The Archeological Survey of India has marked it as the Thread Needle Street. Today it comprises of the heart of Hampi Tourism. There is a huge statue of Nandi, the sacred ox in the eastern side of the street. This is an important landmark for reaching most of the important places of interest in Hampi.
Shri Virupaksha TempleThe Shri Virupaksha Temple comprises of the heart of Hampi Bazar.. Located atop the Hemakuta Hill, this temple is also known as the Pampapathi Temple and is considered to be one of the most sacred temples in and around Hampi. Believed to be established in the 7th century, this temple originally contained shrines of Lord Shiva, Pampa and Bhubaneshwari. A Sanctum, three ante chambers, a pillared hall and a Mukha Mantapa also called Ranga Mantapa or an open pillared hall were later improvised and annexed to the main structure by Raja Krishnadevaraya in 10010.
The Ranga Mantapa is made of 38 pillars each cut into two vertical sections. While the first resembles a rearing Yali, or a mythical lion standing on a makara, the second is mostly a square depicting Shaiva themes..
The other temple of significance in this complex is the shrine for Goddess Bhuvaneshwari. This shrine was rebuilt in the Vijayanagara days, over an 11th century temple. This temple is chiefly noted for its marvelously worked door-frame, pillars and articulately chiseled ceiling panels
Ugra NarasimhaUgranarasimha, also called the Lakshmi Narasimha implies the avatar of Narasimha in a terrorizing disposition. Located only a few meters into the South of the Virupaksha Temple, it was built in 10028A.D. during the reign of Krishnadevaraya. According to the original plan there was a small sculpture of Lakshmi sitting on the lap of this mammoth structure of about 6.7 meters in height. However, it is believed that this small structure must have been mutilated and vandalized in 10065A.D.
The structure of Narasimha is indeed scary and awe inspiring. With fine and chiseled mane, huge bulging eyes and a broad chest, he is shown to be seated on the coils of the seven hooded snake Adisesha that provides a canopy and also serves as a base for supporting a lion’s mask on it.
Mahanavami PlatformThis decorated platform was used by the kings during the mahanavami festival and during the pre-war sessions. It has been constructed on ascending levels with the interiors of each level covered with carvings of elephants, horses, hunting, battle scenes and musical recitals and dance performances. The eastern and western staircases of the platform lead to the top.
Lotus MahalHistory records that the Lotus Mahal served the function of a reception hall within the royal enclave. Consisting of eight pyramidal roofs arranged symmetrically around a central roof, this building is the highest testimony of perfection that can be achieved in sculpture. The open lower storey has high arched openings. The windows in upper storey also have arched outlines
King’s BalanceLocated southwest of the Vijayavitthala temple is a huge structure known as the King’s Balance. Fitted with two granite pillars of about 100 ft and a stone column of 12 feet, the Bas-reliefs depict a king with two of his queens, probably Krishnadevaraya with his consorts.
This balance was put to use by weighing the kings of Vijayanagara on special occasions like solar or lunar eclipses, new year’s day, coronation day and the like, against precious gems, gold, arms and similar other valuable objects. It is also called Tula Bhadra or Tula Purushadana.