Hampi is a village in southern Karnataka, India. Hampi is located within the ruins of Vijayanagara, the former capital of the Vijayanagara empire. Possibly predating the city of Vijayanagara, this village continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha temple. The village of Hampi contains several other monuments belonging to the old city. It extends into some of the old ceremonial streets of Vijayanagara.
As the village is at the original centre of Vijayanagara, it is sometimes confused with this ruined city. Hampi is also called "The City of Ruins". The Vijayanagara ruins are listed as the Ruins at Hampi as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The name "Hampi" is an anglicized version of the Kannada Hampe (derived from Pampa, the ancient name for the river Tungabhadra). Over the years, it has also been referred to as Vijayanagara and Virupakshapura (from Virupaksha, the patron deity of the Vijayanagara rulers).
Hampi is identified with the mythological Kishkindha, the monkey kingdom which finds mention in the Ramayana. The first historical settlements in Hampi date back to 1 CE.
Hampi formed one of the cores of the capital of the Vijayanagara empire from 1336 to 1565. Hampi was chosen because of its strategic location, bounded by the torrential Tungabhadra river on one side and surrounded by defensible hills on the other three sides.
Hampi is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River. It is 343 km from Bangalore, 254 km from Bijapur and 74 km away from Bellary. Hospet, 13 km away, is the nearest taluka headquarters. The chief languages spoken are Kannada, Telugu and English. The principal industries of the village are agriculture, the support of the Virupaksha temple and some other local holy places in the vicinity, and tourism. The annual Vijayanagar Festival is organized by the Government of Karnataka in November.
Some Important Sites
Hampi Bazaar: The old Hampi Bazaar is now a bustling village. The village has become something of a travellers' Mecca and is a superb place to stay if you're not too concerned about minor luxuries.
The western side of Hampi Bazaar is the most bustling area. Here you'll find a number of restaurants catering for Western travellers, the Aspiration Stores which has a variety of books as well as souvenirs The village is dominated by the Virupaksha Temple. The temple is popular with Indian tourists.
Vittala Temple: The Vittala Temple is situated two km away from Hampi bazaar. This temple is a World Heritage Monument and is in a good state of preservation. Although it was never finished or consecrated, the incredible sculptural work of the Vittala Temple is of the highest standard and is the pinnacle of Vijayanagar art. The outer pillars are known as the musical pillars as they reverberate when tapped, although this practice is being actively discouraged as the pillars are somewhat the worse for wear. The stone chariot or cart in front of the temple is one of the most photographed objects in this part of India; the wheels even used to turn.
Royal Enclosure Area: This area of Hampi is quite different from the northern section in that there are nowhere near as many rounded boulders littering the site - most have been used to make a mind-boggling proliferation of beautifully executed stone walls. Within various stone-walled enclosures here are the rest of Hampi's major attractions. First up are the Lotus Mahal and the Elephant Stables. The former is a delicately designed pavilion in a walled compound knpwn as the Zanana Enclosure. The building gets its name from the lotus bud carved in the centre of the domed and vaulted ceiling. The Elephant Stables is a grand building with eleven doomed chambers for housing the state elephants. Further south are the Royal Enclosure with its various temples, the Underground Temple and the Queen's Bath.