Places to Visit in and around Hampi
The attractions at Hampi are spread over a large area approximately 26 Sq km. The following are few important places to visit at Hampi.
Virupaksha Temple: Virupaksha Temple is the main center of pilgrimage at Hampi. The temple is dedicated to Lord Visrupaksha (Lord Shiva). The history of the temple dates back to 7th century. Then the small shrine grew into a large complex under the Vijayanagara rulers. Over the centuries the temple slowly expanded into a sprawling complex with many sub shrines, pillared halls, flag posts, lamp posts, towered gateways and even a large temple kitchen. You access the temples main entrance tower through the chariot street in front now popularly called the Hampi Bazaar.
Queens Bath: The Queen's Bath in Hampi is located close to the entrance of the Royal Enclosure. It is a huge bath that demonstrates the architectural excellence prevalent during Vijayanagara era. The Queen's bath in Hampi refers to the private bathing chambers of the kings and queens of the days of the Vijayanagara Empire. A 6 feet deep rectangular pool surrounded by balconies, each of which boasting of three windows, was used as the bathing area. The Queen's bath will make you realize that the present day spas and tubs are zero compared to the lavish baths used in the past.
Vijaya Vittala Temple: Vijaya Vittala Temple in Hampi is an ancient monument and situated northeast of Hampi, dedicated to Lord Vittala, an aspect of Lord Vishnu. It is largest and is well-known for its excellent architecture and matchless craftsmanship. The front of the temple features a stone chariot, which is one of the three famous chariots in India. The temple has amazing stone structures and the musical pillars at this temple are noteworthy. Each of the massive pillars of the temple emits a different musical tone. The pillars have been damaged by the British, who cut the pillars to check what was responsible for producing the sound. Vijaya Vittala temple in Hampi is a must visit place for everyone.
Elephant Stable: The Elephant Stable in Hampi is one of the major tourist attractions and it is located in the area that lies just outside the Zenana Enclosure. The Elephant Stable is an attractive structure that was used to provide shelter for the royal elephants of the Vijayanagara Empire. There are 11 domed tall chambers; some of them are inter- connected. Elephant stable is one of the very few structures that were left undamaged during the Mughal attack on Hampi.
Lotus Palace: Lotus Palace in Hampi is also known as Lotus Mahal or Kamal Mahal and it is situated in the Zenana Enclosure of the monuments. The highlight of the Lotus Mahal is its exceptional and distinctive architecture. It is a two storied very symmetric structure exhibiting a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture. It is also believed that the Lotus Palace was air-cooled and maintained its temperature during summer. It is one of the few wonderful structures in Hampi that have not suffered extensive damage during the siege of the city. Lotus Palace is a famous tourist spot that is considered to be one of the must-visit sites for anyone on the Hampi trip.
Vithala Temple Complex: Vithala Temple Complex is one of the major tourist attractions of Hampi and situated on the northeastern part of Hampi, is one of the predominant monuments within the Sacred Centre. The temple is constructed in 15th century AD in the form of a large complex with compound walls and gateway towers. The entire complex houses several temples, enclosures, pavilions and halls. One of the major attractions of this complex is the Stone Chariot. This is itself a miniature temple, carved out of a single rock, to resemble the temple chariots or rathas in which temple idols are traditionally taken out in procession.
Hampi Bazaar: Hampi Bazaar is a unique attraction of Hampi and it is located in front of the Virupaksha Temple. The Hampi Bazaar is a well-known market place that spreads for more than one kilometer and demonstrates prosperous market during the days of the Vijayanagara Empire. The road passing through the market has series of old pavilions on both sides. The streets where once the royalty of Vijayanagar Empire roamed the marketplace buying their goods and wares, jewellery and clothes are now lined with small shops and restaurants.
Hemakuta Hill Temple Complex: The Hemakuta group of temples is a group of ancient temples located on the Hemakuta hill in Hampi. The Hemakuta hill is located in the southern side of the Hampi village and the hilltop is scattered with a large number of temples that dates back to 9th to 14th century and therefore, belong to the era before the Vijayanagara Empire was founded. The Hemakuta Hill region is protected and surrounded with an ancient fort. The entire region resembles a huge sheet of undulated rocks, the temple have pyramid like roofs. It is interesting to see three temples built perpendicular to the other face with a common hall. Though located at the heart of Hampi, the relative calm and seclude of the place is a pleasing and amazing.
Mahanavami Dibba: The Mahanavami Dibba is one of the most interesting structures of Hampi is located within the Royal Enclosure of Hampi. The Mahanavami Dibba is also called as Dasara Dibba was constructed by King Krishnadevaraya to celebrate his victory over Udaygiri (Orissa). The Mahanavami Dibba is extraordinarily carved platform of height of about 12 meters used as a stage by the kings of Vijayanagar to watch the celebration of the nine-day long wonderful Navarathri festival. The Mahanavami Dibba is decorated with carvings of horses, elephants and soldiers. You can visit the top of this site by following either of the two staircases, one located in the front and other in the back. On reaching the top, visitors can enjoy a beautiful view of the surrounding area.
Matanga Hill: Matanga Hill is a holy places described in the epic Ramayana as the hermitage of Saint Matanga. Matanga Hill is one of the beautiful places of Hampi and it offers a picturesque view. Matanga hill is a perfect spot to shoot an aerial sight of Hampi and its surroundings. You can also witness the beautiful sunrise and sunset from Matanga Hill, and the view is really amazing. From atop the hill, one can view the Achyutaraya temple ruins, the Tungabhadara river, Virupaksha Temple and of course, an beautiful landscape.
Hazara Rama Temple: Hazara Rama Temple is a small but beautiful shrine located at the center of the Royal Enclosure of Hampi. This beautiful temple was built in 15th century and dedicated to Lord Rama. Hazara Rama Temple was once the private temple of the kings and the royal family of Vijayanagara. The temple is well-known for the lovely bas relics and panels depicting the story of the epic Ramayana. The relics also depict parades of horses, elephants, attendants, soldiers and dancing women taking part in the Dasara festival march at that time.
Achyutaraya Temple: Achyutaraya Temple is a beautiful temple located between Gandhamadana and Matanga Hills. The temple was consecrated in 1534 AD by Achyuta Deva Raya. The temple is dedicated to Lord Tiruvengalanatha (Venkateshwara) originally named Tiruvengalanatha, but gradually it became popular by the King's name. The Achyutaraya Temple is an example of Vijayanagara style temple architecture in its most advanced form than any other temples in Hampi. The Temple was one of the last grandiose temple projects completed in Hampi, before the downfall of the Vijayanagar empire. The Achyuta Raya temple complex has two enclosures, each having an entrance Gopura. The main temple is situated within the inner enclosure. The inner wall of the temple courtyard is lined with pillared mantapas.
Balakrishna Temple: The Balakrishna (Infant Krishna) Temple is one of the must visit places in Hampi. The Balakrishna temple was built by Krishnadevaraya in 1513 AD to honor his victory in the battle over Prataparudra Gajapati, the ruler of the eastern kingdom of Udayagiri (Orissa). During the battle he seized an image of child Krishna and brought it to Vijayanagara as war trophy. He then built this temple to consecrate the image. The temple has a sanctum, an antechamber, an ardha mantapa, a circumambulatory passage, a pillared hall with three entrances and an open pillared mantapa, in addition to a number of other shrines for the attendant deities. The sanctum is at present empty. The inner sides of the entrance display exquisite carvings and elegant architectural designs with Apsaras standing on mythical animals and holding scrolls filled with panels showing the ten incarnations of the lord. The main idol of the temple is that of Lord Balakrishna which is now on display in the Government Museum at Chennai.
Underground Temple, Hampi: The Underground Temple or Prasanna virupaksha Temple is one of oldest temples built in 14th century and located near the main road to Hampi bus stand and close to the Noblemen's quarters after Chandikesvara temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the name of Prasanna virupaksha. The temple is built few meters below the grond level and the roof of the temple is at par with the present ground level while the main structure of the temple stands on a low lying area. A series of wide large steps along the axis of the tower and the sanctum leads you to the inner part of the temple. The main hall in front of the shrine is big with huge cubical pillars supporting the roof. The lamppost actually protrudes through the roof. Depending upon the water level you may be able to proceed to the sanctum area.
Lakshmi Narasimha Temple, Hampi: Lakshmi Narasimha also called as Ugra Narasimha (Narasimha in its terrifying form) is the largest statue in Hampi. Narasimha is sitting on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake called Sesha. The heads of the snake acts as the hood above his head. The god sits in a cross-legged Yoga position with a belt supporting the knees. The original statue contained the image of goddess Lakshmi, spouse of the god, sitting on his lap. But this statue has been totally damaged during the raid leading to the fall of Vijayanagara. This single statue alone can demonstrate the creativity mind of the artist who carved this brilliant work of architecture on single boulder of granite and destructive mind of the attackers who destroyed this image. It is a major tourist attraction and is visited by a large number of people throughout the year.
Hampi Shivalinga: This is largest Linga image in Hampi and located next to the Lakshmi Narasimha statue. The Linga is housed inside a chamber with an opening in the front. The sanctum in which the Linga is installed is always filled with water as a water channel is made to flow through it. Legend has it that this was commissioned by a peasant woman and hence the name Badavilinga. (Badva means poor in Kannada language). Both Lakshmi Narasimha and Badavi Linga shrines can be visited together.
Stone Doors, Hampi: The stone doors located near Mahanavami Dibba are one of the main leftovers of the Vijayanagar period that can be seen among the ruins in Hampi. These amazing pair of monolith doors was once part of one of the grand entrances of the Royal Enclosure in Hampi. The beautifully carved stone doors exhibiting the skill of the craftsmen of the Vijayanagara era, each door carved out of a single huge stone having bolts and pivot shafts attached to it. The stone doors are in a state of ruin now can be seen lying on the ground.
Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple, Hampi: Sasivekalu Ganesha, (Sasivekalu means mustard seed in Kannada language) is a huge monolithic statue of Lord Ganesha located in southern foothill of the Hemakuta Hill in Hampi. Sasivekalu Ganesha is one of the major attractions of Hampi and the temple dates back to 16th century. The temple was built by a merchant of Chandragiri in memory of the then king Narasimha II. The deity is named after Sasivekalu because the stomach or pot belly of the deity resembles the shape of a mustard seed. The huge statue is kept inside a pavilion in a sitting position and has four arms. This monolithic statue carved out of a huge boulder measures about 2.4 meters (8 feet). The statue is in the ruined state as the tusk and trunk of the statue is broken.
Zenana Enclosure, Hampi: The Zenana Enclosure fortified and private area was meant for royal women of Vijayanagar empire. It is located in the area approaching the Royal Enclosure. There are four structures inside the enclosure, of which the Queen's palace is the largest one but now it's in ruins. There are two towers on the north and south-east of the enclosure. Northeast of the Royal Centre within the walled ladies' quarters is the Zenana Enclosure. Its peaceful grounds and manicured lawns feel like an oasis amid the arid surrounds. The whole Zenana enclosure is protected with tall and broad walls made out of cut stones arranged in interesting patterns. The construction style of the wall is noteworthy. The major attractions of the Zenana Enclosure include the Lotus Mahal, Basement of Queen's Palace, Water Pavilion, Watch Towers and Treasury Building. The Zenana enclosure provides abundant scope for visitors to appreciate the extraordinary and unique architecture used for the design of the structure.
Gagan Mahal or Old Palace: Gagan Mahal is an old palace built around 16th century and located in the small village of Anegundi near Hampi. This place is soaked in legends and history and lots of tourists visit this place during their tour in Hampi. Gagan mahal is surrounded by a fort and most of its parts are in ruins now. This small yellow colour palace has protruded decorated windows and four beautiful towers.
Talarigatta Gate: Talarighatta Gate used to be a main access gateway to the Hampi, former capital of Vijaynagar Empire. The main road to Talarigatta from Kamalapura passes through this arched structure. This largely damaged structure still maintains its original intent, a gateway on the main road. A tiny shrine of Hanuman is located just in front of the gate.
Riverside Ruins: Riverside Ruins are other important attractions of Hampi. The river side ruins include Kodandarama Temple (extraordinary for the various clusters of ruins), array of Shiva Lingas carved on the flat rock surface and Anandashayana Vishnu on the rock cleft.
Pattabhirama Temple: Pattabhirama Temple is located at a distance of 6 Km from Hampi at Kamalapur. The temple is dedicated to Lord Rama. Even today, Pattabhirama Temple is a popular pilgrimage center and stands as a reminder of the rich historical era. The Pattabhirama Temple displays a unique attraction. The whole temple demonstrates marvelous architecture of Vijayanagara style of craftsmanship in the walls and pillars of the temple. The temple that once used to be full of devotees wears an empty look today. The serene atmosphere of the place and the splendid architecture leave visitors mesmerized.
Palace of Vira Harihara, Hampi: The Palace of Vira Harihara is an ancient structure that date backs to Vijayanagar Empire. It is believed that the palace belonged to Harihara Raya II, the third king of the Vijayanagara Empire who belonged from the Sangama Dynasty. Harihararaya II was also known as Vira Harihara II and he ruled over the kingdom in the later part of the 14th century.
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