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Sightseeing in Hampi

Sightseeing in Hampi is all about visiting various temples, the famous Hampi bazaar and the ruins that are scattered all over the town.

The Vittalla Temple at the eastern end of the Hampi bazaar is undisputedly the most impressive structure in Hampi. This superbly sculptured temple was begun in 1509 during the reign of the greatest Vijayanagar king, Krishnadevaraya. Now a World Heritage Site, this temple, which was never completed or consecrated, encompasses the best of Vijayanagar temple building. At the entrance is lavishly carved stone chariot with an image of the mythological bird Garuda. The pillars of the hall are musical, if struck they’ll sound a definite musical note.

Hampi Bazaar once the most fabulous trading spot is slowly returning to life with many of the old buildings being functional again. Traders once more ply their wares but now it’s mostly branded, packaged, with ‘sales tax extra’! This area has a charm of its own and much of it has to do with the fascinating phenomenon of renaissance.

Sule Bazaar, just a little way off, is an ancient market that did not regain its life like the main bazaar. Lovely old buildings stand silently and perhaps one day here too it won’t be quiet.

The Virupaksha Temple dedicated to an incarnation of Lord Shiva stands at the western end of the market just as it had 600 years ago. The main tower is over 50 meters tall. The most sacred temple as well as the biggest structure in Hampi, this temple is also known as Pampapathi Temple. Today, it is the only temple in Hampi where prayers are still offered.

Near Sule Bazaar is another ancient temple called Achyutaraya Temple -- beautifully sculptured, it too has a strange aura that evokes a sense of the past.

Walking around the desolate boulder strewn landscape of Hampi, you will come across the ruined remains of the grand palace complex from where at one time royal decrees must have issued forth commanding respect and obedience from the subjects.

The Royal Centre is one of the most hauntingly fine structures in Hampi. The Lotus Mahal and the Elephant Astabal (Stables) are situated inside the Zenana Enclosure. These were private quarters that held the royal womenfolk away from prying eyes.

The Royal Enclosure has an array of temples and houses the old waterworks. The Hazara Rama Temple is another evocative ruin in Hampi. It was the temple for the royal family, and is named after the many scenes of Ramayana carved on the wall – Hazara Rama meaning a thousand Rama. Another interesting place to see in Hassan which is not-to-be missed sight is the gigantic sculpture of Lakshmi Narasimha called the Ugra Narasimha. According to inscriptions found here, this statue was created in 1528 at the behest of Krishnadevaraya. Over 6.7 meters tall, the statue depicts Lord Narasimha in his fierce aspect seated on the coiled snake Adishesha.

Across the Tungabhadra River which you can cross in a coracle, lies Anegondi, another complex of ruins that has many small temples.

The Archaeological Museum (Kamalapuram) has models of the ground plan of the ancient town and some excavated sculptures. You must visit it for a really complete picture of Hampi, present and past.

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