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Hampi – Where The Past Encourages Exploration!

Hampi has been attracting considerable attention over the years. It even has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But does a village located in the Northern part of Karnataka have to gradually capture the interest of travelers India and abroad?

 Touted as the largest open monument, Hampi forms an integral part of the ruins of Vijaynagara (the once capital of the Vijaynagara Empire). Apart from the historical significance, the place shares a strong connection to the epic Ramayana. According to the mythological epic, the region is believed to be the site of Kishkindha (empire of the monkey king Vaali and his successor Sugriva).

 Owing to this rich history that the region encloses, the Archaeological Survey of India keeps conducting excavations in Hampi to discover something new every now and then.  These enthralling discoveries also have attributed to the rising interest towards the region among tourists.

 Some of Hampi’s hidden wonders are listed below for you to discover:

Archaeological Museum: The Archaeological Museum of Hampi is the centre attraction that brings together collections of sculptures and assorted antiques under one roof. To ease the exploration of these antiques, the museum has been divided into four galleries.  The galleries hold ancient sculptures and antiquities from the Vijaynagara and other dynasties to rule Hampi in the past. Visitors can also explore further back in time viewing antiquities belonging to the prehistoric and protohistoric period. But the star attraction of this place is the Central Hall which is a look alike of Hampi temple consisting of beautiful statues like the ones in the actual temple.

 Anegundi: The supposed site of Kishkindha from the Ramayana, Anegundi is dotted with shrines small and big, dedicated to the legendary vanars Bali, Sugriva, and of course Hanuman. Moving from mythology to a time far before, Anegundi was home to Neolithic men from the Stone Age, whose cave paintings have survived the test of time! From the medieval ages, Chalukyan and Vijayanagar dynasties too left their mark behind in the form of forts and palace. These remnants from the past speak volumes of the region’s rich history.

 Monkey God Temple (Hanuman Temple): Another place in the region closely linked to the Ramayana is the Monkey Temple, which is located on Anjanadri Hill in Anegundi. Located about 4 km from Hampi, it is believed to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman. With its location on a hill, the spot offers breathtaking views of Hampi and many of the heritage sites of the region. While the view of sunrise and sunset is a mesmerizing one, be cautious of the monkeys loitering around.

 Vittala Temple: Vittala Temple is an ancient monument located on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra River and one of the most famous structures in Hampi. Built around 15th century AD, the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the form of Vittala. Standing in a large rectangular enclosure, the temple is lauded for its exceptional Dravidian architecture and unmatched craftsmanship.  There is a lot to explore in this expansive complex but the main mandapa gets a special mention.  It contains 56 musical pillars, also known as SAREGAMA pillars, which emanate musical notes when the pillars are tapped gently. This is proof of the exceptional craftsmanship the era possessed.

 Virupaksha Temple: The Virupaksha temple is the most famous temple in Hampi.  Dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is considered one of the most sacred temples in Karnataka. According to local history, the temple has been functioning uninterruptedly ever since its inception in the 7th century AD and is one of India's oldest functioning temples. It saw its origins as a small humble shrine which was expanded to its present magnificence during the reign of the Vijayanagara kings. Additions to the temple in the Chalukyan and Hoysala eras, further added to its grandeur.

The main temple’s large nine tiered gopura (temple tower) faces the famous Hampi Bazaar for visitors to soak in its grandeur. On a closer look inside, one can find intricately carved mandapas and towers lined across the temple complex.

 Hampi Bazaar:  Located in front of the Virupaksha temple, The Hampi Bazaar is a kilometer long street featuring an array of old pavilions, which were once the part of the thriving market. Look towards the eastern end of the street and one can a huge Nandi statue, known as Yeduru Basavanna. Besides the statue is an open platform, which serves as a main stage for the annual Hampi festival. Held annually in the month of November, the bazaar becomes the centres of vibrant festivities attracting numerous locals as well as tourists.

 Hampi offers a glimpse into a vibrant glimpse into a history that spans centuries. The one of a kind cultural, architectural and religious experience it offers attracts lakhs of tourists annually from India and abroad.  So, set your eyes on Hampi and find yourself dive into a wondrous exploration of its glorious past.


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