Hampi Temples

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Hampi Temples

History

A strange and magical place, Hampi is one of the most beautiful towns in Karnataka. Huge boulders are scattered across the land where ruins of the old Vijayanagar capital stand, poignant reminders of the passage of history. All the temples and buildings of Hampi are an exotic mix of Hindu and Islamic styles and the result is high vaulted domes and striking carvings. The group of monuments at Hampi were declared a World Heritage site in 1986.

The brothers Harihara and Bukka established the Vijayanagar Empire in 1336. Surrounded by the Tungabhadra River on one side and granite cliffs on the other three sides, Hampi was chosen as the capital of Vijayanagar Empire. Krishnadevaraya, was not only one of the greatest rulers of the region but also a patron to some of the finest temples and buildings in Hampi. The ruins of Hampi are extremely popular with tourists who flock here to soak in a sense of the past; and in every ‘reliving’, this seemingly dead city lives again.

Mahanavami Dibba

The Mahanavami Dibba is a massive structure rising from a base of 11,000 square feet to a height of 40 feet. Located in the Royal Enclosure, it is surrounded by high walls and the hall is placed on a raised platform with wooden pillars at regular intervals. The staircases of this structure are intricately carved with images of animals, people and grandeur of the King. It is believed that the Mahanavami Dibba was once the centre of the Hindu festival Navratri or Mahanavami.

Virupaksha Temple

The Virupaksha temple is named after the main deity of the Vijayanagar Empire known as the Virupaksha. The temple is dedicated to an incarnation of Lord Shiva that stands at the western end of the market just as it had 600 years ago. The outer walls of the temple have intricate carvings and its ceilings contain images from the Hindu Puranas. Stunning images of Lord Narsimha, Shivalinga and Lord Ganesha are also found in the temple complex. The main tower of this complex is over 50 meters tall.

Vithala Temple

The Vithala temple at the eastern end of the bazaar is the undisputed best-structure in Hampi. This superbly sculptured temple is dedicated to Vithala (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and was begun in 1509 during the reign of the greatest Vijaynagar king, Krishnadevaraya. Now a World Heritage Site, this temple, which was never completed or consecrated, encompasses the best of Vijaynagar temple building. At the entrance is lavishly carved stone chariot with an image of the mythological bird Garuda.

Balakrishna Temple

This temple was originally built by Krishnadevaraya to celebrate his victory over Prataparudra Gajapati, the ruler of Orissa. The temple consisted of a carved image of the main deity Balakrishna which presently is in Madras museum. It also consists of pillared halls, passages, entrances and a few other images of deities. The entrance of the temple is beautifully decorated with Apsaras.

Best time to visit

The best time to visit the place is between the months of October and February as the weather here is cool and a gentle breeze sweeps the countryside making sightseeing a comfortable experience.

Trivia

The Annual Hampi Festival is held from 2nd to 5th November every year. The fest is organised at the Hampi ruins. The highlights of the festival are the stage performances, exhibitions, folk arts and carnivals held at the end of the festival. The programmes start in the evenings and carry on till midnight.

Hear a definite musical note when you strike a pillar in the Vithala Temple. Try it! It’s music to your ears.

Timing

The monuments of Hampi are open from sunrise to sunset.


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