The lesser-known secrets of Hampi, India
In the middle of the 14th century, two local princes, Harihara and Bukkaraya, founded Hampi, a flourishing town of India. At least, it was once a flourishing town. Today, it stands in ruins.
We take you on a journey of a glorious past, secluded reality, and miraculous architecture.
1. Dravidian-Style Architecture
The Vijaya Vittala Temple
The Vijaya Vittala Temple is a Dravidian-style architecture. It consists of temples with pyramid-shaped towers and are constructed of sandstone, soapstone or granite. Over a period of time, Dravidian architecture developed into its own form and tradition.
The Vijaya Vittala temple was built in the 15th century AD. It consists of beautiful halls, pavilions, gateways, and pillars showcasing the knowledge, understanding, and creativity of Indian sculptors and artisans of that time.
2. The Musical Pillars of the Ranga Mantapa
The 56 fascinating musical pillars can be found in the Ranga Mantapa. Each of these pillars represents a musical instrument which when struck gives out the musical notes from the instrument they embody. Every main pillar is surrounded by seven smaller pillars, and these smaller ones emit different musical notes with varying sound quality. This striking feature was a point of concern for the British. They found it suspicious, and cut open two pillars to understand the source of its sound. They were unable to find the reason, however, the cut remained.
Pushkarani literally translates to a temple tank, and you can find one near the Mahanavami Dibba in the Royal Center of Hampi. Stepwells can be found all over India, and the one in Hampi is geometrically shaped without any carvings. The one that you see today has been reassembled by Indian archeologists. After finding its pieces, they restored the Pushkarani by putting it back together.
4. Virupaksha Temple
Dedicated to god Shiva, Virupaksha Temple is one of the most important and most visited pilgrimage sites in Hampi. It’s said that it’s been functioning continuously since its inception in the 7th century AD. This makes it one of the oldest functioning temples in India. The temple is at its most striking during the sunset and sunrise. Located in the illustrious Hampi Bazaar, the temple is also known as the Pampvathi temple. Its three gopuras, 160-foot-tall towers are mesmerizing, and the temple’s endearing elephant, Lakshmi, waits for you outside the mandapa.
The story behind its exquisite carvings
Hampi holds many secrets, and its elaborate carvings tell many stories. From the temple walls to the pillars, everywhere you’ll find different and interesting decorations. There are scenes from the Hindu festival Janmashtmi, sword fights, animal motifs, and in some places imagery of sumo wrestlers, showing the vast networks of trade and commerce between India and the outside world. Sumo was originally a ritual dance performed in Japanese shrines, where performers had to fight with kami (spirit), which explains its presence in a holy place.
5. Standing in ruins
The grandeur of Hampi was once known and celebrated even outside India. It’s said that there was a time when diamonds were sold and bought openly in the markets near the temple. But if we look at it today, it’s tragic that the city stands in ruins. Its splendour and glory have been lost, but its mystic feel, the blue skies, and the calm Tungabhadra river still remind us of what it was.
6. And still, you can ..
The rocky terrain of the ancient town has a wide scope for you to get on one of its many hiking trails. The Hemakuta Hill trek, the Matanga Hill trek, the Anjaneya Hill trek, and the Malyavanta Hill trek offer spectacular natural beauty. But if you want to avoid hills then go for Kampa Bhupa’s Path where no climbing is required. Decide on your trail and start exploring the man-made and natural beauty of Hampi.
Go for a Coracle ride
You can’t leave the town without enjoying a unique coracle ride on the waters of the River Tungabhadra. This circular boat has a carrying capacity of six to eight people on a single trip across the river. Don’t be scared by the boat’s tiny size. It’s safe, and you shouldn’t miss it.
Find a place for yourself
You’re in “the land of seekers.” The vast area of Hampi will provide you with ample places to have your own quiet time. Choose a place for yourself, sit, and relax. Take a break. Breathe in, and breathe out. Let the Indian vibes and views settle in your mind. Let it all sink in.
Or lose yourself in history
For archeologists, architects, and history enthusiasts, this place is no less than heaven. It’s an open museum encapsulating India’s rich past. Spread across an area of more than ten square miles, surrounded by temples, palaces, markets, and varied structures and sculptures, Hampi provides a glimpse into the prosperous reign of the Vijaynagar Empire. With every step and every day spent here, there’s something to learn or discover either about the place or yourself.
An article is incomplete without stunning pictures, and we owe it to our featured travel photographer Krishnna Sharrma for making this article beautiful with her photography skills.
Follow her for more such breathtaking photographs on Instagram: @bombaybanjaran