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Hampi si1084.jpg
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location Ballari District, India Edit this at Wikidata
Coordinates 15°20′04″N 76°27′44″E / 15.334547°N 76.462162°E / 15.334547; 76.462162
Includes Virupaksha Temple Edit this on Wikidata
Criteria Cultural: (i), (iii), (iv) Edit this on Wikidata
Reference 241
Inscription 1986 (10th Session)
Endangered 1999–2006
Website asi.nic.in/asi_monu_whs_hampi.asp
Hampi is located in India
Location of Hampi

Hampi, also referred to as the Group of Monuments at Hampi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in east-central Karnataka, India.[1] It became the center of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire capital in the 14th-century.[2] Chronicles left by Persian and European travelers particularly the Portuguese state Hampi as a prosperous, wealthy and grand city near the Tungabhadra river with numerous temples, farms and trading markets. By 1500 CE, Hampi-Vijayanagara was the world's second largest medieval era city (after Beijing) and probably India's richest at that time, attracting traders from Persia and Portugal,[3][4] the Vijayanagara Empire was defeated by a coalition of Muslim Sultanates, its capital was conquered, pillaged and destroyed by Sultanate armies in 1565, after which Hampi remained in ruins.[2][5][6]

Located close to the Andhra Pradesh border and near the modern era city of Hosapete, Hampi ruins are spread over 4,100 hectares and has been described by UNESCO as "austere, grandiose site" of more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India, that include "forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures, water structures and others".[7] Hampi predates the Vijayanagara Empire, with evidence of Ashokan epigraphy and its mention in the Ramayana and the Puranas of Hinduism as Pampaa Devi Tirtha Kshetra.[2][8] Hampi continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple, an active Adi Shankara-linked monastery, and various monuments belonging to the old city.[5][9]


Hampi is set in a rocky terrain. Above: one of the many Vijayanagara market ruins, with Tungabhadra river in the back.

Hampi is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in the eastern part of central Karnataka, near the Andhra Pradesh border, it is 376 kilometres (234 mi) from Bangalore, 385 kilometres (239 mi) from Hyderabad and 266 kilometres (165 mi) from Belgaum. The closest railway station is in the city of Hosapete (Hospet), 13 km away. During the winter season, overnight buses and trains connect Hampi with Goa, Secunderabad and Bangalore,[10] it is 140 kilometres (87 mi) southeast of the Badami and Aihole archaeological sites.[10][11]

Texts and history[edit]

Hampi — traditionally known as Pampa-kshetra, Kishkindha-kshetra or Bhaskara-kshetra — is derived from Pampa, another name of goddess Parvati in Hindu theology. According to one of its numerous mythologies, the maiden Parvati resolves to marry the loner ascetic Shiva,[12][13] her parents learn of her desire, discourage her, but she pursues what she wants. Shiva is lost in yogic meditation, oblivious to the world, she appeals to the gods for help in waking him up and paying attention to her. Indra sends the god Kama – the Hindu god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection, to awake Shiva from meditation. Kama reaches Shiva and shoots an arrow of desire.[12][13] Shiva opens his third eye in his forehead and burns the cupid Kama to ashes. Parvati does not lose her hope or her resolve to win over Shiva, she begins to live like Shiva, engage in the same activities as Shiva, one of asceticism, yogin and tapasya. This draws the attention of Shiva and awakens his interest, he meets her in disguised form, tries to discourage her, telling her Shiva's weaknesses and personality problems.[12][13] Parvati refuses to listen and insists in her resolve. Shiva finally accepts her and they get married.[12][13] According to Sthala Purana, Parvati (Pampa) pursued her ascetic, yogini lifestyle to win and bring ascetic Shiva back into householder life on the banks of Tungabhadra river, on Hemakuta hill now a part of Hampi.[14] Shiva is also called Pampapati (lit. "husband of Pampa").[14] The river came to be known as Pampa river,[15] the Sanskrit word Pampa morphed into Kannada word Hampa, and the place Parvati pursued what she wanted came to be known as Hampe or Hampi.[14][15][16]

The site was an early medieval era pilgrimage place known as Pampakshetra, its fame came from the Kishkindha chapters of the Hindu epic Ramayana, where Rama and Lakshmana meet Hanuman, Sugriva and the monkey army in their search for kidnapped Sita. Hampi area has many close resemblances between the place described in the epic, the regional tradition believes that it is that place mentioned in the Ramayana, attracting pilgrims.[17]

Ancient to 14th century CE[edit]

Emperor Ashoka's Rock Edicts in Nittur & Udegolan (both in Bellary district, 269-232 BCE) suggest that this region was part of the Maurya Empire during the 3rd century BCE. A Brahmi inscription and a terracotta seal dating to about the 2nd century CE have been found during site excavations,[18][19] the town is mentioned in Badami Chalukya's inscriptions as Pampapura (6th to 8th centuries).[17]

By 10th century, it had become a center of religious and educational activities during the rule of Hindu kings of Kalyana Chalukyas, whose inscriptions state that the kings made land grants to Virupaksha temple.[17][20] Several inscriptions from the 11th to 13th centuries are about the Hampi site, with a mention of gifts to goddess Hampa-devi.[18] Between 12th and 14th century Hoysala Empire's Hindu kings from South India built temples to Durga, Hampadevi and Shiva, according to an inscription dated about 1199 CE. Additionally, Hampi became the second royal residence, with one of the Hoysala kings coming to be known as Hampeya-Odeya or "lord of Hampi".[17][20] According to Burton Stein, the Hoysala period inscriptions call Hampi by alternate names such as Virupakshapattana, Vijaya Virupakshapura in honor of the old Virupaksha (Shiva) temple there.[18]

14th century and after[edit]

The armies of Delhi Sultanate, particularly those of Alauddin Khalji and Muhammad bin Tughlaq invaded and pillaged South India, the Hoysala Empire and its capital Dvarasamudra in south Karnataka was plundered and destroyed in early 14th century by the armies of Alauddin Khilji,[21][22] again in 1326 CE by the army of Muhammad bin Tughlaq.[23][24][25]

The Kampili kingdom in north-central Karnataka followed the collapse of Hoysala Empire, it was a short-lived Hindu kingdom, with its capital about 33 kilometres (21 mi) from Hampi.[23][26][27] The Kampili kingdom ended after an invasion by the Muslim armies of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, the Hindu women of Kampili committed jauhar (ritual mass suicide) when the Kampili soldiers faced a certain defeat at the hands of Tughlaq's army.[28][29] From the ruins of the Kampili kingdom, within a few years rose the Vijayanagara Empire in 1336 CE, it grew into one of the famed Hindu empires of India that ruled Southern India for over 200 years.[26][30]

The Vijayanagara Empire built its capital around Hampi calling it Vijayanagara, and they greatly expanded the infrastructure and temples. According to Nicholas Gier – a professor of Philosophy with publications on India's Religions and history, and other scholars,[3] by 1500 CE Hampi-Vijayanagara was the world's second largest medieval era city (after Beijing) and probably India's richest at that time, its wealth attracted traders in the 16th century from across the Deccan area, and abroad such as Persia and the Portuguese who had formed a colony in Goa.[4][31] The Vijayanagara rulers fostered developments in intellectual pursuits and the arts, maintained a strong military and fought many wars with Sultanates to its north and east, they invested in road, waterworks, agriculture, religious buildings and public infrastructure. This included, states UNESCO, "forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas (halls for people to sit), memorial structures, gateways, check posts, stables, water structures, and more",[7] the site was multi-religious and multi-ethnic, one that included Hindu and Jain monuments next to each other. While the buildings predominantly followed South Indian Hindu arts and architecture that trace back to the Aihole-Pattadakal styles, but the Hampi builders also adopted elements of Indo-Islamic architecture such as at the Lotus Mahal, the public bath and the Elephant stables.[7]

According to historical memoirs left by Portuguese and Persian traders to Hampi, the city was of metropolitan proportions and they called it "one of the most beautiful cities". While prosperous economically and in infrastructure, the Muslim-Hindu wars between Muslim Sultanates and Vijayanagara Empire continued; in 1565, at the Battle of Talikota, a coalition of Muslim Sultanates entered into a war with the Vijayanagara Empire.[7] They captured and beheaded the king,[32][33] followed by a massive destruction of the infrastructure fabric of Hampi and the metropolitan Vijayanagara,[7][34] for six months after the war, the city was pillaged, looted and burnt then abandoned as ruins. Those ruins are now called the Group of Monuments at Hampi.[7][34][note 1]

Hampi Map, 1911 Survey

Archaeological site[edit]

Hampi and its nearby region remained a contested and fought over region claimed by the local chiefs, the Hyderabad Muslim nizams, the Maratha Hindu kings, Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan of Mysore through the 18th century;[36] in 1799, Tipu Sultan was defeated and killed when the British forces and Wadiyar dynasty aligned. The region then came under the British influence,[36] the ruins of Hampi were surveyed in 1800 by Scottish Colonel Colin Mackenzie, first Surveyor General of India. Mackenzie wrote that the Hampi site as abandoned and only wild life live there, the 19th century speculative articles by historians, who followed Mackenzie, blamed the 18th-century armies of Haidar Ali and the Marathas for the damage to the Hampi monuments.[36]

The Garuda stone chariot and Vitthala temple gopuram in 1856 (left) and 2016.

The Hampi site remained largely ignored through the first half of the 19th century, the next significant empirical report was created in 1856 by Alexander Greenlaw who visited and photographed the site.[37] His efforts created the first collection of 60 callotype archives of photographs of temples and royal structures that were standing in 1856. However, these photographs were held in a private collection in the United Kingdom, and not published till 1980,[37] these have proven to be most valuable source of the state of Hampi monuments in mid 19th-century to scholars.[37]

A publication of the translated version of Abdul Razzaq's memoir, a Persian envoy in the court of Devaraya II (1424-1446), in early 1880s described some monuments of the abandoned site, this translation introduced Arabic terms such as "zenana" to describe some of the Hampi monuments for the first time.[38] Some of these terms became the names thereafter. Alexander Rea, an officer of the Archaeological Survey department of the Madras Presidency within British India, published his survey of the site in 1885.[38] Robert Sewell published his scholarly treatise A Forgotten Empire[39] in 1900 bringing Hampi to the widespread attention of scholars.[38] The growing interest led Rea and his successor Longhurst to clear and repair the Hampi group of monuments.[38]

The site is significant historically and archaeologically, not only for the Vijayanagara period but prior,[40] the Archaeological Survey of India continues to conduct excavations in the area.[41]


Sasivekalu Ganesha monument

Hampi is on the south bank of the Tungabhadra River, set midst a hilly terrain formed by granite boulders of pink, ochre and grey tones,[42] the Hampi monuments that form the UNESCO world heritage site are a subset of the much more spread out Vijayanagara ruins. Almost all of the monuments were built between 1336 and 1570 CE during the Vijayanagara rule,[43] the site has about 1,600 monuments over 41.5 square kilometers.[7]

The Hampi site has been studied in three broad zones, the first has been called as "sacred center" by scholars such as Burton Stein and others.[18] The second is referred to as the "urban core" or the "royal center", the third constitutes the rest of the metropolitan Vijayanagara. The sacred center reflects the oldest temples with a history of pilgrimage and monuments pre-dating the Vijayanagara empire, it is along the Tungabhadra river.[44] The urban core and royal center too have over sixty additional ruined temples beyond those in the sacred center, but the temples in the urban core are all dated to the Vijayanagara empire's resources and efforts. Additionally, other than temples, the urban core included public utility infrastructure such as roads, aqueduct, water tanks, mandapa, gateways, markets, monasteries[note 2] and others, this distinction has been assisted by some seventy seven stone inscriptions that have been found in the Hampi area.[44][45][46]

The monuments are predominantly Hindu with both the temples and the public infrastructure such as tanks and markets include relief and artwork depicting Hindu gods, goddesses as well as narrating themes from Hindu texts.[47] Yet, they also include six Jain temples and monuments, as well as a Muslim mosque and tomb,[47] the architecture deployed the abundant local stone and the style was predominantly in the Dravidian style with roots in the developments in Hindu arts and architecture in the second half of the 1st millennium in the Deccan region.[48] It also included elements of the arts that developed during the Hoysala Empire rule in the south between the 11th and 14th century such as in the pillars of Ramachandra temple and ceilings of some of the Virupaksha temple complex,[49][note 3] the architects also adopted Indo-Islamic style in a few monuments such as the Queen's bath and Elephant stables, which states UNESCO, reflects a "highly evolved multi-religious and multi-ethnic society".[7][50]

Hindu monuments[edit]

Virupaksha temple at Hampi

Virupaksha temple and market complex[edit]

The Virupaksha temple is the oldest shrine, the principal destination for pilgrims and tourists, and one which continues to be an active Hindu worship site inside Hampi.[51] Parts of the god Shiva, goddess Pampa and Durga temples existed in the 11th-century, much more was added to it during the Vijayanagara era,[52] it is a collection of temples, a regularly repainted gopuram that rises more than 50 meters, a Hindu monastery dedicated to Vidyaranya of Advaita Vedanta tradition, a water tank (Manmatha), a community kitchen, other monuments and a 750 metres (2,460 ft) long ruined stone market with a monolithic Nandi shrine on the east end.[51][53][54]

The temple faces east, aligning the sanctums of the Shiva and Pampa Devi temples for the sunrise, with a large gopuram marking its entrance, the superstructure is a pyramidal tower with pilastered storeys. On each storey of this gopuram is artwork which includes erotic sculptures,[55] the gopuram leads into a rectangular court which ends into another smaller gopura dated to 1510 CE. To its south side is a 100 column hall with Hindu theme related reliefs on all four sides of each pillar.[56] Connected to this public hall is a community kitchen, a feature found in other major Hampi temples. A channel is cut into the rock near it to deliver water to the kitchen and the feeding hall, the courtyard after the small gopura has dipa-stambha (lamp pillar) and Nandi.[56][57][58]

The courtyard after the small gopura leads to the main mandapa of the Shiva temple, the main mandapa consists of the original square mandapa and a rectangular (2 fused squares, 16 piers) extension built by Krishnadevaraya. Its ceiling of the open hall above the mandapa is painted showing the Shaivism legend relating to Shiva-Parvati marriage, another section that shows the legend of Rama-Sita of the Vaishnavism tradition.[56] A third section that show the legend of the Hindu love god Kama shooting an arrow at Shiva to get him interested in Parvati, the last section shows the Advaita Hindu scholar Vidyaranya being carried in a procession. According to George Michell and other scholars, the details and color hues suggest that all the ceiling paintings are from a 19th century renovation, but it is unclear whether the original painting had the similar themes or different.[56][59][60] The mandapa pillars have outsized yalis, mythical animals that fuses features of horse, lion, and others with an armed warrior riding it – a characteristic Vijayanagara feature.[61]

The sanctum of the temple has a mukha-linga, that is a Shiva linga with a face, in this case embossed of brass;[62] in addition to the main Shiva temple, the Virupaksha temple has smaller shrines for two aspects of Parvati – Pampa and Bhuvaneshwari, north of the main sanctum.[63] The compound has a northern gopura, smaller than the eastern gopura, that opens to the Manmatha tank and a pathway to the Tungabhadra river with stone reliefs related to the Ramayana.[64] To the west of this tank are shrines of Shaktism and Vaishnavism traditions, such as those for Durga and Vishnu respectively,[64][65] some of the shrines on this pilgrim's path were whitewashed in the 19th century under orders of the British India officer F.W. Robinson, who sought to restore the Virupaksha temple complex, and such whitewashing of this cluster of historic monuments has continued as a tradition.[64]

The Virupaksha is the only temple, according to local tradition, that continued to be a gathering place of Hindus and frequented by pilgrims after the destruction of Hampi in 1565, the temple attracts large crowds and an annual fête with chariot procession to mark the marriage of Virupaksha and Pampa in spring, as well as the solemn festival of Maha Shivaratri.[55]

The ruins of Krishna Temple

Krishna temple, market, Narasimha and linga[edit]

The Krishna temple, also called Balakrishna temple, is about a kilometer to the south of Virupaksha temple, on the other side of the Hemakuta hill, it is dated to 1515 CE, and this part of the Hampi complex is called Krishnapura in inscriptions.[66] In front of the ruined temple is a long market street (also referred to locally as the bazaar). Between the colonnaded stone shop ruins is a broad road allowing chariots to bring and carry away goods to the market, as well as host ceremonial functions and festive celebrations. To the north of this road and middle of the market is a large Pushkarani or public utility stepped water tank with an artistic pavilion in its center. Next to the tank is a public hall (mandapa) for people to sit.[66]

Shiva linga (left) and fierce Yoga-Narasimha monoliths carved in-situ. Narasimha is damaged, his pedestal has burn marks.

The temple opens to the east, has a gateway with reliefs of all ten avatars of Vishnu starting with Matsya at the bottom. Inside is the ruined temple for Krishna, as well as small ruined shrines for goddesses,[66] the temple compound is layered into mandapas, including an outer enclosure and an inner enclosure. The compound has two gopura entrances. Inside a 25 (5x5) bay open mandapa leads to a 9 (3x3) bay enclosed mandapa,[67] the original image of Balakrishna (baby Krishna) in its sanctum is now in a Chennai Museum. A modern road passes in front of the east side gopura, linking Kamalapuram to Hampi, the west side gopura has friezes of battle formation and soldiers.[66]

South of the Krishna temple outside are two shrines immediately next to each other, one containing the largest monolithic Shiva Linga and the other with the largest monolithic Yoga-Narasimha avatar of Vishnu in Hampi,[66] the 3 metres (9.8 ft) Shiva Linga stands in water in cubical chamber, has three eyes sketched on its top. South of it is the shrine for a 6.7 metres (22 ft) high Narasimha – the man-lion avatar of Vishnu, seated in a yoga position. The Narasimha monolith originally had goddess Lakshmi with him, but it shows signs of extensive damage and attempts to burn the shrine down because the floor is stained with carbon, the statue has been cleaned and parts of the shrine has been restored.[66]

Left: Achyutaraya temple ruins; Right: market in front of the temple ruins.

Achyutaraya temple and market complex[edit]

The Achyutaraya temple, also called the Tiruvengalanatha temple, is about 1 kilometer to the east of Virupaksha temple and a part of its sacred center being close to the Tungabhadra river, it is referred to be in Achyutapura in inscriptions, and dated to 1534 CE. It is one of the four largest complexes in Hampi,[68] the temple is unusual in that it faced the north. It is dedicated to Vishnu (Tiruvengalanatha),[69] the temple was traditional approached in Vijayanagara times from the river, first past a ceremonial tank, then a long market street with a broad road. The temple had an outer gopuram, leading into a courtyard with a 100 column hall and an inner gopuram leading to the Vishnu temple,[69][70] the 100 column hall has reliefs on each side of each pillar, showing various avatars of Vishnu, other deities such as Shiva, Surya, Durga, as well scenes of daily life, rishi, amorous couples, jokers, individuals in various yoga asanas, individuals in namaste pose, Vijayanagara emblems and others.[71][72]

The temple gateway shows the Vijayanagara dynastic emblem - boar (from Varaha), sword, sun and moon, the temple and the market street are much ruined, but the layout of the ruins suggests it was a major market with streets provided for chariot traffic.[73][74]

Vitthala temple and market complex[edit]

Vitthala temple gopuram and market.

The Vitthala temple and market complex is over 3 kilometers northeast of the Virupaksha temple near the banks of the Tungabhadra river, it is the most artistically sophisticated Hindu temple in Hampi, and a part of the sacred centre of Vijayanagara. It is unclear who and when the temple complex was built, with most scholars dating it to a period of construction between early and mid 16th century,[75] the inscriptions include male and female names, suggesting that the complex emerged from multiple sponsors. The temple was dedicated to Vitthala (a form of Krishna, also called Vithoba).[75]

The Garuda shrine in the form of stone chariot at Vitthala temple.

The temple opens to the east, has a square plan and features an entrance gopuram and two side gopurams, the main temple stands in the middle of a paved courtyard and several subsidiary shrines, all aligned to the east.[75]

The Vitthala temple has a Garuda shrine in the form of a stone chariot in the courtyard facing the temple, one of the oft pictured symbol of Hampi, the stone chariot had a tower above it, but it was removed during the late 19th-century clean up and restorations. In the front of the stone chariot is a large square open-pillared axial sabha mandapa, or community hall,[75] the mandapa has four sections, two aligned with the temple sanctum. The mandapa has variously carved 56 stone beams of different diameters, shape, length and surface finish which produces musical sounds when struck, the local traditional belief is that this hall was used for public celebration of music and dance.[76][77]

The mandapa links to an enclosed pradakshina patha for circumambulation of the sanctum, around this axial mandapa are (clockwise from east): the Garuda shrine, the Kalyana mandapa (wedding ceremonies), the hundred-columned mandapa, the Amman shrine and the Utsav mandapa (festival hall). The walled enclosure is over 1.3 hectare with colonnaded verandah lining the compound walls. It includes a kitchen in the southeast corner, with roof window to let light in (clerestory).[75][45][78]

Outside the temple compound, to its east-southeasterly direction, is a colonnaded market street almost 1 kilometre long all of which is now in ruins. To the north is another market and a south facing shrine with reliefs of the Ramayana scenes, the Mahabharata scenes and of Vaishnava saints, the north street ended in a temple honoring the Hindu philosopher Ramanuja.[75][57] The region around the Vitthala temple was called Vitthalapura, it hosted a Vaishnava matha (monastery), designed as a pilgrimage center centered around the Alvar tradition. It was also a centre for craft production according to inscriptions found.[45][57][78]

Hemakuta hill monuments[edit]

The Hemakuta hill is to the south of the Virupaksha temple complex, north of the Krishna temple, it is a collection of modest size monuments that are the best preserved illustrations of pre-Vijayanagara and early-Vijayanagara temples and construction. The site has several important inscriptions that are also historically important, as well as being one of the easily accessible spots for an aerial view of the some parts of Hampi and the fertile agriculture valley that separates the sacred center section from the urban core with its royal center.[79][80]

Hemakuta hill temples

There are more than thirty small to moderate size temples on the Hemakuta hill alone, in addition to water cisterns, gateways and secular pavilions,[80] they are dated to first decades of the 14th century or earlier.[80][81] Some structures are prototypes of different size of temples or mandapas, assembled from blocks of stones. Others are complete, finished monuments of different designs such as the Phamsana style.[82] Two temple groups in this style look similar, each with triple vimana, each set consisting of square sanctums and each set connected to its own shared square mandapa,[81] the towers (shikaras) on these are pyramidal granite structures consisting of 11 stacked shrinking squares and a top in the Deccan style square kalasha finial.[81] Both set are Shiva temples with triple linga, but early sources misidentified them to be Jain temples given their simple exterior and interior walls. One of these groups has a historically important inscription that records Kampila built the monument in early 14th-century, this inscription links Hampi with the Kampili kingdom and suggests an association of the Kampili history with that of Vijayanagara Empire that followed it in this region.[81] The style of temples on the Hemakuta hill suggest it may have been a study center for trying out different types of Hindu temples, the styles present include those of the Chalukya period, the Rashtrakuta period and later. It may also have been the template for the original Virupaksha temple, later greatly expanded with gopuram, mandala and other additions. A similar monument is found east of Hampi, and is dedicated to the man-lion avatar of Vishnu, namely Narasimha. An inscription near it states that it was operating in 1379 CE.[81][80]

The Hemakuta hill also has monuments with two monolithic Ganesha: the Kadalekalu Ganesha and the Sasivekalu Ganesha,[83] the Kadalekalu Ganesha, named after Ganesha's "gram" shaped belly, is on the east side of Hemakuta hill near Matanga, situated in the middle of Hampi's sacred centre.[84] A colonnaded open mandapa leads to the sanctum with a monolithic image of Ganesha more than 4.5 metres (15 ft) high. The statue has been carved in-situ from the pre-existing rock. Ganesha's tusk and other parts have been damaged, but the left hand survived which holds a rice cake treat with his trunk reaching out for it.[79]

The Sasivekalu Ganesha, named after Ganesha's "mustard seed" shaped belly, it is near the Krishna temple, southwest of the Kadalekalu Ganesha. It is 2.4 metres (7 ft 10 in) high monolithic, also carved in-situ from pre-existing rock. Additionally, the Sasivekalu Ganesha is carved with his mother Parvati in whose lap he sits, she is only visible from the back of the statue. The Sasivekalu Ganesha is housed inside an open pillared mandapa. Sasivekalu Ganesha's left hand and tusk has been damaged.[83][85]

Hazara Rama temple[edit]

Left: Hazara Rama temple; Right: pillars inside

The Hazara Rama temple, referred to as the Ramachandra temple in inscriptions, was in the royal center section of Hampi, occupying the western part of the urban core, this temple was dedicated to Rama of the Ramayana fame, and an avatar of Vishnu. It was the ceremonial temple for the royal family, the temple is dated to early 15th century, attributed to Devaraya I.[86] The outer walls of the temple portray the Hindu Mahanavami (Dasara) and the spring Holi festival procession and celebrations, in parallel bands of artwork,[86] the lowest band shows marching elephants, above it horses led by horsemen, then soldiers celebrated by the public, then dancers and musicians, with the top layer consisting of a boisterous procession of the general public. The depiction mirrors the description of festivals and processions in surviving memoirs of Persians and Portuguese who visited the Vijayanagara capital.[87][88]

Left: Outer walls of the Hazara Rama temple show Hindu festive procession; Right: Buddha relief inside the temple.

The inner walls of the temple are friezes containing the most extensive narration of the entire Hindu epic Ramayana,[89][86] the temple features entrance mandapa and a yajna ceremony hall with ceiling designed to let fumes and smoke exit through the roof. Inside the main mandapa are four intricately carved pillars in the Hoysala style, the pillars include carvings of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita of Vaishnavism, but also of Durga as Mahishasuramardini of Shaktism and Shiva-Parvati of Shaivism.[86] The sanctum is square but the images from it are missing, the temple has smaller shrine with friezes describing the legends of Vishnu avatars.[89]

This ruined temple complex is well known for elaborate frescoes from the Hindu theosophy and a sprawling courtyard well-laid with gardens, it is noted for its thousands of carvings and inscriptions.[90]

Kodandarama temple and riverside monuments[edit]

The Kodandarama temple complex is to the north of Achyutaraya temple at the river, the temple overlooks Chakratirtha on Tungabhadra, the spot where it turns north towards the Himalayas. The banks are considered holy and features a Vijayanagara era ghat and mandapa facilities for bathing; in front of the temple is a dipa stambha (lighting pillar) under a Pipal tree, and inside is a sanctum dedicated to Rama, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman.[91] Nearby and until Kotitirtha to its north are a number of smaller shrines, such as those dedicated to Vitthala, Anjaneya, Shiva linga and others, on the rock face are reliefs of Anantashayana Vishnu (reclining Vishnu creating the cosmic cycle, Ranganatha), friezes narrating the legends of Narasimha and Prahlada, as well as the twenty four avatars of Vishnu according to the Puranic tradition of Vaishnavism. This complex also has the Shaivism's 1,008 lingas carved on a rock near the river.[91]

Pattabhirama temple in Hampi suburbs

Pattabhirama temple complex[edit]

The Pattabhirama temple complex is in the southern suburban centre outside the sacred center and the urban core, about half a kilometer from the ASI Hampi museum,[92] it was at the nucleus of economic and cultural activity of this suburb, now found to the northeast of Kamalapura. The complex is also known as Varadevi Ammana Pattana, likely built in early 16th century and dedicated to Rama (Vishnu avatar),[92] the complex has a main temple, a colonnaded courtyard inside an enclosure, a 64 (8x8 square) pillared and roofed mandapa in front of the sanctum. The complex and the sanctum face east, and the normal entrance was through the eastern gopura,[92][93] the ruins suggest that the gopura had six tiers. The Pattabhirama temple included a the 100-pillared hall attached to the southern wall of the enclosed compound, likely a feeding hall, the pillars have reliefs showing Hindu themes ranging from gods, goddesses, a scene from a Hindu text to yoga and namaste.[94]

Mahanavami platform, public square complex[edit]

The Mahanavami platform, also called the "Great Platform", "Audience Hall" or "Dasara or Mahanavami Dibba" monument, is within a walled enclosure (about 7.5 hectares) at one of the highest points inside the royal center (urban core). It has ceremonial structures,[95][96] it is mentioned in the memoirs of foreigners who visited Vijayanagara, some calling it the "House of Victory".[97] The largest monument in this complex is a three ascending square stages to a large square platform, it likely had a wooden mandapa above it. This was burnt down during the destruction of Hampi.[98]

Mahanavami platform monument

The two lower levels of the platform is made of granite, it has reliefs, possibly a catalog of royal activities in the 14th century, as well lines of marching animals such as elephants, horses and camels.[95][99] Other reliefs such as on the south side show musicians and dancers, some female stick-dancers, the third level reliefs show a battle procession, couples and scenes of common citizens celebrating Holi (Vasantotsava) by throwing water at each other.[98][96][100] Other structures near the great platform is an audience hall which too likely had a wooden pavilion as evidenced by 100 stone stubs, and this too was burnt down.[95]

To the south of the platform is an acqueduct leading water to large symmetric stepped tank made of granite, a tank that was excavated by archaeologists in the 1980s, the complex features another large water pool possibly for water sports, a garden and various mandapa to sit. A temple like monument near the step tank is in ruins.[98][46]

Water infrastructure[edit]

One of the water tanks, Hampi Ruins

The Square Water Pavilion, also known as the Queen's Bath, is in the southeast part of the royal center, it has a pavilion, a water basin and method of bringing fresh water to it and taking away wash water and overflows. The basin is enclosed within a pillared and ornate vaulted bay,[101] near this monument are ruins of the aqueduct.[101] While the modern era name of this building is the Queen's bath, it is likely a misnomer and this was a public bath for men and travelers,[101][102] the interior arches of the building show influence of the Indo-Islamic style, reflecting an era where Hindu and Muslim arts influenced each other in Vijayanagara and elsewhere in India.[103]

The Vijayanagara empire built an extensive water infrastructure,[102][104] some of the water infrastructure predates the Vijayanagara, such as the Manmatha tank near Virupaksha temple, dated to about the 9th-century. The Manmatha tank was upgraded and a Durga shrine added in 1199 CE, according to an inscription found there,[105] the inclusion of artwork in water tank pavilion, such as a warrior fighting a lion that is found at the tank is dated to the 13th century, when Hoysalas frequented Hampi.[105]

A stepped square water tank.

The Hampi monuments include aqueducts to carry water to various parts of the city and to tanks, as well as drains and channels to remove water overflow,[102] for example, excavations in the 1980s near the Mahanavami platform in the urban core revealed a major square stepped tank. This tank was fed by an aqueduct,[106] the tanks were public utilities and some were perhaps used for royal ceremonies.[107]

Archaeological excavations in 1990 revealed 23 wells and cisterns in Hampi-Vijayanagara metropolis. Of these, 13 were found outside the city walls in the suburbs, and 10 inside. Of these 12 were road side, 8 near temples, 10 in residential areas and 2 for irrigation within the urban core (more were found in Daroji valley for agriculture). According to Kathleen Morrison and Carla Sinopoli, the Hampi water infrastructure was for the use of travelers, rituals, domestic use and irrigation.[108]

Fountains and community kitchen[edit]

Several major temples in Hampi have an embedded kitchen and 100 or more pillared feeding halls.[57][58] Hampi also had a dedicated public Bhojana shala (house of food) where numerous thali (dish) were carved in series in a rock on both sides of water channel, such a facility, for example, is found in the south of the royal center near the octagonal fountain.[109] Epigraphical sources state that this Hampi bhojan shala was a utada kaluve or "canal connected with eating".[110]

Elephant stables and Zenana enclosure[edit]

The Gajashala, or elephant stables, are situated to the east in the royal center, they consist of eleven square chambers aligned in north-south direction. The openings to the stables are arched. Above ten chambers are domes, with an alternating fluted and plain domes; in the middle of the stables are stairs to reach the roof.[111][112]

Lotus Mahal (left) and elephant stables: syncretic style monuments.

The Zenana enclosure is close to the elephant stable, a name it gained because of a Persian memoir called it so and its 19th century translation was one of the early introduction to Hampi ruins for many,[38] it is a misnomer, states George Michell, because it gives the impression that the women of Vijayanagar royalty lived here. The design and location makes that highly unlikely,[113] the Zenana enclosure contains the Lotus Mahal, the latter being a two storeyed pavilion in the royal center part of Hampi.[114] The Lotus Mahal combines a square symmetric Hindu mandala design with lobed arches, vaults and domes of the Indo-Islamic style, its basement and pyramidal towers are based on Hindu temple architecture.[114] Like almost all structures in the royal center part of Hampi, this monument has no inscriptions nor epigraphs mentioning it and therefore dating it and establishing its function with evidence has been difficult, the Lotus Mahal and other structures in the Hampi urban core, however, were not built with Muslim patronage, unlike the tombs in the various Muslim quarters of the city. These buildings reflect the assimilative approach of the Vijayanagara Hindu rulers. Lotus Mahal looks syncretic, congested space and it is unclear what its function was. Speculations include it being a council hall.[114][115]

Other Hindu temples and monuments[edit]

In the sacred centre near the southern banks of the Tungabhadra river and close to the Vitthala temple complex, are gateways and a monuments now called as the King's Balance,[116][117] the balance is similar to those found at the entrances of South Indian Hindu temples for the tula-purush-dāna or thulabharam ceremonies, where a person gives a gift by weight equal to or greater than their own weight. The gift varies from coconut, rice, fruits, coin, sugar, silver, gold or other items.[116][117][118]

The Vijayanagara rulers built forts, fortified gateways and watchtowers after their dynasty was founded from the ruins of a war and for security from repeated raids and invasion, the most common gateways and watchtowers in Hampi are the Hindu style corbelled arch.[note 4] One such Hindu style gateway is found southeast of Ganagitti Jain temple,[119] it incorporate a central barbican wall designed to entrap and confuse a stranger aiming for a surprise, while the regulars knew the three changes of direction before the gateway. These Hindu functional monuments are identifiable by a legendary Hindu character incorporated into them, such as of Bhima of the Mahabharata's Pandava fame. Another such gate is found on the northeast road to Talarighat Hindu monument and the Vitthala temple.[119][120]

The Hampi site has over 1,600 surviving ruins spread over a wide area, predominantly Hindu.[7] Other significant monuments include the temple near the octagonal bath for Saraswati – the goddess of knowledge and music in Hinduism, the temple in the suburbs for Ananthasayana Vishnu, the Uddana Virbhadra temple for Shiva and Vishnu (now popular for local Hindu weddings), a shrine for Kali – the fierce form of Durga in Hinduism (Kali is unusually shown holding a ball of rice and a ladle),[121] the underground temple in the royal center, the Sugriva cave temple,[122] the Matanga hill monuments, the Purandaradasa temple dedicated to the scholar musician famed for the Carnatic music tradition, the Chandrashekhara temple for Shiva near the Queen's bath monument, and the Malyavanta hill dedicated to Rama-Sita-Lakshmana and Shiva. The Malyavanta hill features several shrines including the Raghunatha temple and a row of Shiva lingas carved in stone.[123]

Jain monuments[edit]

Ganagitti Jain temple

Reliefs of Jain temples are present in this area that includes Hemkut Jain temples, Ratnantraykut, Parsvanath Charan and Ganagitti Jain temples. Most of the idols are now missing from these temples. Ruins suggest that these temples belong to 14th century.[124]

Ganagitti temple complex[edit]

The Ganigitti Jain temple is near Bhima's gate, in the southeast part of the urban core section of Hampi; in front, it has a monolithic lamp pillar.[119] The temple faced north-facing temple, it is dated to 1385 CE, built during the rule of Hindu king Harihara II, based on an inscription found within the temple.[119] It is dedicated to Tirthankara Kunthunatha, the temple features plain walls, a pillared mandapa, a square sanctum where the Jina's statue is missing. The capitals on the pillars and the doorways have decoration, over the sanctum is a Dravidian-style narrowing square pyramidal tower. Other monuments in the temple compound are in ruins.[119]

Other Jain temples and monuments[edit]

A cluster of Jain and Hindu temples are co-located about 150 meters east of the Elephant stables. One north facing temple is dedicated to Parshvanatha Tirthankara, it was built by king Devaraya II and dated to 1426 CE, per an inscription in the temple. In front of the temple are two ruined temples together, one of Shiva and other dedicated to the Mahavira.[125] Jain Tirthankaras are also included in reliefs found inside Hindu temples.[126][127][128]

Muslim monuments[edit]

Ahmad Khan tomb in Hampi

The Hampi site includes a Muslim quarter, with Islamic tombs, two mosques and a cemetry, these are neither in the sacred center nor in the royal center of the Hampi site. Some Muslim monuments are a part of the urban core while others are in the suburbs where most Vijayanagara residents lived, these are found in the northeast valley of urban core, where settlements of Hindus and Jains are also found. Much of this region is deeply silted and soil has buried temples, roads, water tanks, gateways and residential quarters that were abandoned.[129][130]

Ahmad Khan mosque and tomb[edit]

There is a Muslim monument in the southeastern part of the urban core on the road from Kamalapura to Anegondi, before Turuttu canal in the irrigated valley, this monument was first built in 1439 by Ahmad Khan, a Muslim officer in the army of Hindu king Devaraya II. The monuments include a mosque, an octagonal well and a tomb, the mosque lacks a dome and is a pillared pavilion, while the tomb has a dome and arches.[130] Other Muslim monuments and a graveyard were added later near the Ahmad Khan's legacy.[130]


In the memoirs of Niccolò de' Conti, the Italian merchant and traveller who visited Hampi area about 1420 CE, the city is estimated to have a circumferenc of 60 miles and it enclosed agriculture and settlement in its fortifications; in 1442, Abdul Razzaq who visited from Persia described it as city with seven layers of forts, with outer layers for agriculture, crafts and residence, the inner third to seventh layers very crowded with shops and bazaars (markets).[131]

Domingo Paes, the Portuguese traveller visited Vijayanagara in 1520 CE, as a part of trade contingent from Portuguese Goa. He wrote his memoir as Chronica dos reis de Bisnaga, in which he stated Vijayanagara to be "as large as Rome, and very beautiful to the sight... the best provided city in the world".[132][133] According to Paes, "there are many groves within it, in the gardens of the houses, many conduits of water which flow into the midst of it, and in places there are lakes...".[133]

Hampi ruins, 19th century
Ruins of Bala Krishna Temple Vijayanagara Hampi 1868 Edmund Lyon photo.jpg
Krishna temple in 1868
Ruins of Vijianuggur, the Volkonda Ramachandra temple in Hampi, Vijayanagara, 1868 photo.jpg
Rama temple in 1868
Interior of Vitthala temple mandapa in Hampi, Vijayanagara 1880 photo.jpg
Vitthala temple in 1880
Hampi King's Balance Vitthala temple street entrance near river 1856 photo.jpg
King's balance in 1858

Cesare Federici, the Italian merchant and traveller, visited few decades after the 1565 defeat and collapse of the Vijayanagara Empire. He, state Sinopoli, Johansen and Morrison, described it as a very different city, he wrote, "the citie of Bezeneger (Hampi-Vijayanagara) is not altogether destroyed, yet the houses stand still, but emptie, and there is dwelling in them nothing, as is reported, but Tygres and other wild beasts."[134]

Will Durant, in his Our Oriental Heritage: The Story of Civilization recites the story of Vijayanagara, then calls its conquest and destruction as a discouraging tale. He writes, "its evident moral is that civilization is a precarious thing, whose delicate complex of order and liberty, culture and peace" may at any time be overthrown by war and ferocious violence.[135]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The destruction and burning down of the city is evidenced by the quantities of charcoal, the heat-cracked basements and burnt architectural pieces found by archaeologists in Vijayanagara region.[35][6]
  2. ^ According to Anila Verghese and Dieter Eigner, literary and epigraphical data evidence the existence of Advaita-Smarta mathas (monasteries), as well as Shaiva and Vaishnava monasteries – both Sri Vaishnavism and Dvaita Vaishnavism mathas. All these were supported by the Vijayanagara rulers. However, of all these only Advaita and Shaiva survived after the collapse of Vijayanagara.[45]
  3. ^ The Deccan region near Hampi, particularly in Pattadakal – another world heritage site, Badami, Aihole to its north and stretching further south towards Belur and Halebidu had a rich tradition of building sophisticated Hindu temples with a fusion of North Indian and South Indian styles. This was abruptly terminated, state Meister and Dhaky, after the first quarter of the 14th-century after the devastating invasions from the Delhi Sultanate, the South Indian artists and architects effected a recovery in Vijayanagara adopting mostly the Dravidian style.[48]
  4. ^ The Hampi builders also included Islamic style arches in fortified gateways at some places.


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