Hampi is where; if you listen very, very carefully, the wind whispers tales from a long bygone era and stones sing stories from history.
Hampi is a UNESCO world heritage site situated on the banks of the river Tungabhadra in the Southern Indian state of Karnataka. It is about 353 kilometers from Bangalore.
If you love history and historical monuments then Hampi is the place to spend a couple of days walking and exploring the ruins of the once thriving and magnificent city of Vijayanagara which around 1500 AD had a massive army of close to a million men.
We spent a couple of days leisurely exploring the ruins of this once magnificent city on foot and was fascinated by what we discovered, though we must say one must be ready to do quite a bit of walking to explore the place. In fact when we walked around the ruins of Hampi, we were reminded about another trip on another day which involved a lot of walking to explore history, and that was Rome!!
Hampi, in its hey days had seven layers of fortification to protect itself against marauding invaders, today the innermost one which enclosed the city is the one whose condition is best preserved. The ruins of the city include buildings from places of worship to palaces, from civil and military offices to stables for elephants and community amphitheatres.
Some of the sights that you should definitely not miss when you are exploring Hampi are:
This is one of the famous temples in Hampi and its grandeur will take your breath away, in this very temple complex stands the iconic stone chariot. The temple complex is also home to the amazing musical pillars. In bygone times the road that led to the temple housed markets on both sides, even today you can see the remnants of the market place.
Hazara Rama Temple Complex
Do not miss this temple complex for here is where you will see elaborate carvings and inscriptions which tell the stories from the Ramayana, one of the most important works of Hindu mythology.
Lotus Mahal inside the Zenana Enclosure
The Lotus Mahal or Lotus palace is a beautiful structure built out of a composition of brick and Lime mortar. It is remarkable to notice that it has survived the ravages of time and still retains its grandeur. The structure’s name is derived from the beautiful shape it has taken because of its archways and domed balconies, that of a half opened lotus bud. Though the actual function of the Lotus Mahal is not known, it is surmised that it would have been a community area for the womenfolk of the royal family. The architectural style of this structure seamlessly blends the best of Islamic and Hindu styles. Outside the Lotus Mahal is a large lawn which affords excellent photo opportunities to click your very own selfie with this grand structure.
The Narasimha Statue
This is the largest statue in Hampi, carved out of a single rock. It is the statue of the Hindu God Narasimha which means Half Man and Half Lion. This imposing statue is sadly damaged, however it has lost none of its grandeur. It towers over the ruins of Hampi with an imposing height of 6.7 meters.
Kadalekalu Ganesha Statue
This statue of the Hindu Elephant God is 4.5 meters tall and is housed in a beautiful pillared hall. The hall itself is a delight with its carved pillars and offers a wonderful view of the ruins of Hampi because of its elevation. The statue derives its name from the fact that the stomach of Ganesha is shaped like a Kadalekalu (Bengal Gram).
There are many, many more such beautiful creations of stone waiting for you in Hampi, Every turn has an awe inspiring surprise in store. Some of the other sights that should not be missed are Virupaksha Temple, Hemakuta Temple Complex, Achyutaraya Temple, Elephant stables, Shivalinga, Stepped tank, Sasavekalu Ganesha, Dasara Dibba and many more.
The sun was setting casting an orange haze across the silent ruins of Hampi as we made our way back, stopping and glancing back to this beautiful place where time stood frozen for eternity.
For the original article visit Voyager‘s blog, article: Hampi – History etched in Stone