Being an Architect, Hampi in Karnataka was in my travel bucket list for a long time. My first visit to these Ruins of Hampi was in 2016, then again in 2020 and both the times, Hampi was blissful. The knowledge, vision and wisdom of the Kings, Architects and Artists can be clearly seen through the Architecture of the place. Here is my travel blog on things that I experienced as I travelled through the Ruins of Hampi.
Hampi has an unearthly landscape of boulders, fascinating history in each corner; thousands of years of old ruined temples and palaces, unbelievable architecture and green paddy fields. It’s truly a land of fantasy. Ruins of Hampi makes travellers dive into history to experience the lost tales of South India’s largest, wealthiest and the most powerful kingdom – The Vijayanagara Empire.
Hampi is also known as Pampa Kshetra and Kishkindha
As per ancient legend linked to Hampi which is described in the Sthalapurana, Shiva is seated in yogic meditation, Pampa (Parvati) the mind born daughter of Lord Brahma – The Creator, expresses her interest to marry Shiva and appeals to the Gods to help her. Indra sends in Kama – God of Love, to distract Shiva but Shiva burns Kama using his third eye. Pampa does not lose hope and begins to engage herself in yogic activities like Shiva on the Hemakuta hill which attracts Lord Shiva’s attention and he finally accepts Pampa and marries her. Kama was later again brought to life after their marriage. This story fetches the name – Pampa Kshetra.
As per the Hindu epic Ramayana, this is the very place where Rama and Lakshmana meet Hanumana, Sugreeva and his vanaar sena (Monkey army) during their quest for Ram’s abducted wife, Sita. One can also visit a set of caves which are on the northern bank of river Tungabhadra near Anegundi village where footprints of Rama on stone are maintained as a shrine and devotees come here for floral tributes. This place is believed to be the one where Rama stood and shot his arrow to kill Vali (Vali vadha). One of the caves was used by Hanumana for meditation while waiting for Rama’s arrival.
Anjanadri hill which is about 10 kilometres from Anegundi is considered as the birth place of Lord Hanumana. Another cave called as Sugriva’s cave which is close to the southern bank of river Tungabhadra is believed to be the place where Sugriva hid jewels dropped by Sita from Ravana’s aerial chariot. This Monkey Empire was known as Kishkindha.
Hampi terrain is one of the most ancient and stable surfaces found anywhere on the Earth. The unique rocky appearance is not caused by earthquake or upheaval but due to millions of years of erosion caused by exposure to the Sun, wind and rain. The Tungabhadra River traverses in a north-easterly direction across the granite landscape with Matanga hill rising on its southern bank and Anjanadri hill on the northern bank. As you travel further south the granite outcrops gradually disappear and the landscape opens out into a broad plain.
The Vijayanagara Empire
The foundation of Vijayanagara was a consequence of the invasions by the armies of Delhi Sultans in the beginning of the 14th Century. Slowly it became difficult for the Delhi forces to hold the new lands and the powers gradually started shifting into the hands of the local chiefs appointed by these rulers. At Hampi, Hukka (Harihara I) and Bukka established their legitimacy as leaders by reviving the Virupaksha shrine on the southern bank of Tungabhadra river which led to the founding of the Vijayanagara empire. Harihara II, Devraya I, Devraya II and Krishnadevraya majorly contributed towards the growth of the empire.
The construction of all the massive temple complexes, aqueducts, foundation of royal structures, residential quarters and carvings depicting the Vijayanagara lifestyle are all done in one of the hardest type of rock known to mankind – Granite. Architectural marvels such as massive granite doors, musical pillars, air cooled palaces all made from granite, using various types of joinery stand the test of time. The architecture of each building leaves you awestruck! As you travel through the time and ruins of Hampi.
I shall elaborate on the major structures through maps, sketches and photos in my upcoming blogs.
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