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Hampi is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India. Located in the south Indian state of Karnataka, the former city of the Vijayanagara Empire is one of the biggest historical and cultural treasures in India. Located on the banks of the Tungabhadra River, the city is dotted with glorious remnants of the 14th century. The ancient monuments present the zenith of incredible skills of architecture, sculptures and engravings.
If stones could narrate, Hampi will have galore of tales. The city has been mentioned in the legends of Ramayana, historic accounts of the powerful Vijayanagar Empire and in records of the travelers. Walk through the ancient landscape and relive the history. Shop for souvenirs relax by the river banks and do not miss to capture some clicks.
With the turning wheels of time, Hampi got lost in ruins. Now the city remains wrecked, but the charm is not lost. Here are the top attractions to check out in Hampi:
The 5th-century Virupaksha temple is one of the most recognized structures of Hampi. Dedicated to Lord Shiva as Virupaksha and his consort, the local Goddess Pampa. One of the finest examples of Vijayanagara architecture, the temple houses a 38 pillared hall carved in the form of mythical lion, with typical Shaivite carvings on the base and the embellished ceiling with bright paintings from Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas. Do not miss the colossal statue of Nandi Bull facing his favorite Lord. Another interesting shrine to check out, is especially noted for its carved doors, pillars and finely chiseled panels dedicated to Goddess Bhuvaneshwari.
The grandest of temples in Hampi, Vitthala Temple is a 15th century architectural marvel built in typical Dravidian style. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple is accessible by 3 gateways. The pillared hall leads to the small sanctum housing the idol of the deity. The special highlight is the 56 musical pillars, which produce melodious music when tapped but is now restricted as they were getting damaged. The exquisitely carved Stone Chariot of Hampi is one of the extravagant creations of its time. Actually a miniature temple, the chariot is formed as a grand vehicle for the procession of idols.
Pre-Vijayanagara era temples atop the Hemakuta hill, these are historic treasures in Hampi. Appearing like an expanse of rocky sheets with interesting undulations, The Hemakuta Hill Temples are sites that inspire awe. The must visit temples here are Kadalekalu Ganesha and Sasivekalu Ganesha on the slopes of Hemakuta Hills.
Named after the Ramayana panels that adorn the walls, Hazara Ram Temple is a marvelous specimen of art and architecture in Hampi. The former temple of the royal family is extravagantly adorned with intricate bas relief that narrate episodes from Ramayana. The pillared hall present beautiful pillars of black stone. Though not in use anymore, visit the temple to see the shrine dedicated to Devi.
The Archaeological museum at Hampi houses a collection of artifacts of the Vijayanagara Empire. Displays include 16th century arms, brass plates, gold and copper coins, limestone Buddhist panels, Jain Thirthankaras and sculptures of Ganesha, Hanuman, Lakshmi and Garuda. Walk through the three galleries and a sculpture gallery.
The Queen's Bath built in true indo-Saracenic style is one of the best-known structures of Hampi. The square structure is bounded by arched pillars and arched balconies. It was used by the women of the royal household. Water was supplied by pipes and the bath has lotus-shaped fountains that once sprouted perfumed water.
The Elephant Stables at Hampi are beautiful examples of Indo-Islamic style of architecture. Out of the 11 rooms of the grand building, 10 are adorned with high domes. The stables were home to the ceremonial elephants used by the royal family on special occasions.
Like its name, the Lotus Mahal is a 2-storey structure shaped like a lotus flower complete with beautiful archways. The archetype indo-Islamic architecture was apparently used for recreation and music concerts.
Lakshmi Narasimha is the largest icon in Hampi. It is a giant monolithic statue of the man-lion God with consort Lakshmi sitting on his lap depicted in a cross-legged (yoga) seated position. Narasimha is one of the ten avatars (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. This image was partly destroyed during the enemy invasion.
A recently excavated site, the stepped tank of Hampi is an extravagant masterpiece of black stone. Relatively small, but ornately carved, the tank is accessible by 5 tiers of proportionately fitted steps. The water to this tank was drawn through a stone aqua duct which is well-preserved even today.
The ruins alongside the River Tungabhadra connects the ancient Hampi Bazaar to the Vittala temple. This path is dotted with numerous shrines, carved artifacts, and ruins of ancient structures. The 1008 Siva lingams carved in a matrix like pattern on a sheet of boulder at the river shore is to be not missed.
Explore Hampi with royal pleasures as Maharajas' Express 7 Nights / 8 Days itinerary named The Southern Jewels. The prized gem of Hampi is one of the highlights of the luxury train tour to South India.