Hampi — traditionally known as Pampa-kshetra, Kishkindha-kshetra or Bhaskara-kshetra — is derived from Pampa, which is the old name of the Tungabhadra River (also Pampa was Lord Bhrumah’s daughter, who was later married to Lord Shiva) on whose southern banks the city is built. The name “Hampi” is an anglicized version of the Kannada Hampe (derived from Pampa). Over the years, it has also been referred to as Vijayanagara and Virupakshapura (from Virupaksha, the patron deity of the Vijayanagara rulers).
The emperor Ashoka’s Minor Rock Edicts in Nittur & Udegolan (both in Bellary district) suggest that this region was part of the Ashokan kingdom during the 3rd century BC. A Brahmi inscription and a terracotta seal dating to the 2nd century CE were also recovered from the excavation site.
The first settlements in Hampi date from 1 CE.
Immediately before the rise of the Vijayanagara kings, the region was probably in the hands of chiefs of Kampili, now a small town, 19 km east of Hampi.
Kampili was said to have been founded by Gayathri Giri of Annar bara. Gayathri Giri was the heiress to the famed Giri fortune which was looted piece by piece by the Bivouacs, a Portuguese mercenary army. Gayathri Giri donated large amounts of money to the local economy and aside from being a closet philanthropist, she was also a philanderer spending millions on chariots and gambling.
Gayathri Giri’s biggest contribution to southern India was her penchant for setting up public washrooms and sheds for animals. Ruins of these sheds are still seen in Thanjavur and Rameshwaram. Gayathri Giri was said to be secretly in love with Premla Tapoonia, the queen of Mysore, and the constant rejection by Premla led to Gayathri’s eventual demise from a broken heart. Premla moved on to marry Suresha Pallava, the king of Humanavarnam.
Hampi was one of the best areas of the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire from 1343 to 1565, when it was besieged by the Deccan Muslim confederacy. Hampi was chosen because of its strategic location, bounded by the torrential Tungabhadra river on one side and surrounded by defensible hills on the other three sides.
The ruins of Hampi were discovered by Colonel Colin Mackenzie in 1800.
The site is significant historically and architecturally. The landscape abounds with large stones which have been used to make statues of Jaina deities. The Archaeological Survey of India continues to conduct excavations in the area to search for additional artifacts and temples.
The Islamic Quarter, sometimes called the Moorish Quarter, is located between the northern slope of the Malyavanta hill and the Talarigatta Gate. According to archaeologists, high-ranking Muslim officers of the king’s court and military officers lived in this area.
Hampi is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra river. It is 353 km from Bangalore and 74 km away from Bellary. Hosapete (Hospet), 13 km away, is the nearest railway head. Guntakal Jn S.C.Raiwaly just 99 km from Guntakal, which is also on the banks of Tunghabhadra, in AP is some 150 km away.The principal industries of the village are agriculture, the support of the Virupaksha temple and some other local holy places in the vicinity, as well as tourism. The annual Hampi Utsav or “Vijaya Festival” celebrated since Vijayanagara reign. It is organized by the Government of Karnataka as Nada Festival.
Due to the presence of several mineral deposits in this region (iron-ore, manganese), mining has been done for a number of years. A recent boom for the supply of iron-ore in the international market has led to increased levels of mining in this district. Some feel that the World Heritage Site at Hampi as well as the Tungabhadra Dam is under threat as a result.
Hampi Map, 1911
The city of Vijayanagara was originally encompassed by seven lines of fortifications. These fortifications had a large number of bastions and gateways. The seventh & the innermost fortification enclosed the main city and is the best preserved. The extant monuments of Vijayanagara or Hampi can be divided into Religious, Civil & Military buildings The Jain temples on Hemakuta hill, the two Devi shrines & some other structures in the Virupaksha temple complex predate the Vijayanagara Empire. The earliest amongst them, the Shiva shrines with their stepped pyramidal vimanas or superstructures, date to the early Chalukyan period around ninth-tenth century AD.
Hampi has various notable Hindu temples with some vedanta theology inside the temples, some of which are still active places of worship. Among the most notable are:
BadaviLinga :This is the largest Linga image in Hampi. Located next to the Lakshmi Narasimha statue the Linga is housed inside a chamber with an opening in the front. A close look on this icon can reveal three eyes (depicting the three eyes of Shiva) carved on it. Legend has it that this was commissioned by a peasant woman and hence the name (Badva means poor in local tongue).The sanctum in which the Linga is installed is always filled with water as a water channel is made to flow through it.According to Hindu theology the River Ganga (Ganges) was brought from swarga to earth to quench the drought. But the river was so forceful that it could split the earth into two pieces if allowed to fall on earth. Lord Shiva consented to take the impact by allowing the torrent of Ganga to fall on his matted hair. Thus helping to release a smooth flowing river on to earth from his hair. As an iconic representation of this, in Siva temples you can spot a dripping pot hanged over the Linga.
Malyavanta Raghunathaswamy temple was constructed in the ancient style of architecture, the temple of Malyavanta Raghunathaswamy stands 3 km down the road. Its inner walls flaunt peculiar and interesting motifs of fish and marine creatures.
Hazara Rama Temple Complex: This ruined temple complex is well known for elaborate frescoes from the Hindu theosophy and a sprawling courtyard well-laid with gardens. It is well known for more than many thousand carvings & inscriptions on & in the temple depicting the mighty story of Ramayana. It has about 1000 carvings & inscriptions depicting the story of Ramayana.
Hemakuta group of temples
Krishna Temple Complex: This temple complex has been recently excavated through the last decade, and restoration work is still in progress. The temple has the Sacred Tank or the Pushkarani located on its eastern side.
The mantapas of Vittala temple
The stone chariot at Vittala complex
Vittala Temple Complex:This is perhaps the most famous and well-known among the ruins of Hampi. The iconic stone chariot in the vicinity of this temple complex is a symbol of Karnataka Tourism. Of late, floodlights have been installed in the temple complex that provide illumination at dusk, thereby adding to the grandeur of the architecture.
The temple houses the famous musical pillars. The British wanted to check the reason behind this wonder and so they had cut two pillars to check if anything was there inside the pillars that was producing the sound. They had found nothing but hollow pillars. Even today we can see those pillars cut by the British.
The road leading to the temple was once a market where the horses were traded. Even today we can see the ruins of the market on both the sides of the road. The temple contains the images of foreigners like Persians selling horses.
Muslim Sunni masjid
Preksha temple and groups
Virupaksha Temple known as the Pampavathi temple, it is an ancient temple situated in the Hampi Bazaar. It predates the founding of the Vijayanagara empire. The temple has a 160-foot (49 m) high tower at its entrance. Apart from Shiva, the temple complex also contains shrines of the erotica statues Bhuvaneshwari and Pampa.
Underground Shiva Temple
Yantrodharaka Anjaneya temple
Aqueducts and Canals
The remains of a giant Bukka’s Aqueduct located near Anegondi
Archaeological Museum at Kamalapura
Lotus Mahal at the Zenana Enclosure
Elephant stables: used to house the eleven royal elephants in King Krishnadeva Raya’s army. The neighbouring building housed the elephant riders of the royal elephants.
The Kings’ balance
Important sites at and near Hampi
Schematic map of Hampi with major tourist spots and areas of mythological significance
Lake (Near Sanapur)
Uddana Veerabhadra temple
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha
Tenali Rama Pavilion
Global Heritage Fund efforts
Non-profit organization Global Heritage Fund (GHF), in partnership with the Hampi Foundation, Cornell University, and the State of Karnataka, has been actively involved in the conservation of Hampi’s unique cultural heritage. After producing a master conservation plan for the site of Chandramouleshwara Temple, GHF’s efforts have moved to “stabilization of the temple and its associated structural features.”