The first thing comes to mind on seeing this temple, or more precisely its walls, is the locally popular comic strips of Hindu mythology, Ramayana. But the difference is, the stories are carved, in long arrays, onto the walls of this temple.
Probably this is the only temple in the capital with its external walls decorated with bas-reliefs mentioned above. And the temple got its name Hazara Rama (a thousand Rama) Temple owing to this multitude of these Ramayana panels on its walls.
This surviving temple and temple complex is the core of the village of Hampi. Also known as the Pampapati temple, it predated the empire, and was extended between the 13th and 17th centuries. It has two courts with entrance gopurams. The main entrance with a 50 meter gopuram faces east into a ceremonial and colonnaded street, that exends for about 1 km to a monolithic statue of Nandi.
The temple is still in use now. It is dedicated to Virupaksha, an aspect of Shiva and his consort Pampa, a local deity.
The tower gives access to the inner court. On entering this you would meet an important inmate of the temple, the little naughty elephant. Give a one-rupee coin (the elephant takes it from you with its trunk) and you can get a smooch on the head, treatit as a blessing!
Situated northeast of Hampi, opposite the village of Anegondi, this is one of the principal monuments of the city. It is dedicated to Vittala, an aspect of Vishnu worshipped in the Maratha country. It is believed to date from the 16th century.
In the front of the temple is the famous stone chariot or ratha. This is itself a miniature temple, carved out of a single rock, to resemble the temple chariots or rathas in which temple idols are traditionally taken out in procession.
One of the notable features of the Vittala Temple is the musical pillars. Each of the pillars that support the roof of the main temple is supported by a pillar representing a musical instrument, and is constructed as 7 minor pillars arranged around a main pillar. These 7 pillars, when struck, emanate the 7 notes from the representative instrument, varying in sound quality based on whether it represents a wind, string or percussion instrument.
This is one of the must see sites in Hampi. The carvings are especially spectacular with the Yalis (the mythical lion) on the pillars and the entrances to the temple hall flanged with impressive carvings of elephant balustrades. Many small shrines and pillared halls adorn the campus. The temple kitchen is located at the south east of the main shrine. The main tower at the east is an impressive sight with numerous carvings on it (now the tower is under restoration work). You can see the carvings of the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu in this temple.
This is the largest statue in Hampi. Narasimha is sitting on the coil of a giant seven-headed snake called Sesha. The heads of the snake acts as the hood above his head. The god sits in a cross-legged Yoga position with a belt supporting the knees.
Sometimes this is referred as Ugra Narasimha (i.e. Narasimha in its terrifying form). The protruding eyes and the facial expression are the basis for this name.
This is the largest monolithic Linga in Hampi. Located next to the Narasimha statue the Linga is housed inside a chamber with an opening in the front.A close look on this icon can reveal three eyes (depicting the three eyes of Siva) carved on it. Legend has it that this was commissioned by a peasant woman and hence the name (Badva means poor in local tongue).
The sanctum in which the Linga is installed is always filled with water as a water channel is made to flow through it.
This giant statue of Ganesha was carved out of a huge boulder at the northeastern slope of the Hemakuta hill. The belly of this statue resembles a Bengal gram (Kadalekalu, in local language) and hence the name.This 4.5 meters (15 feet) tall statue is one among the largest sculptures in Hampi. The pillared hall is a vantage point to survey the environs, especially the Hampi Bazaar and the foothills of Matanga hill.
Thanks to the resemblance the giant monolithic Ganesha statue is locally called Sasivekalu(mustard seed)Ganesha. This is located on the southern foothill of the Hemakuta Hill
Harem ~ Lorus Mahal ~ Queen’s palace base ~ Watch towers ~ Royal treasury
Zenana enclosure was a secluded area reserved for the royal women. This walled harem houses many interesting highlights. The major attraction is the Lotus Mahal located at the southeast corner. The path to the other locations like the Elephant Stable, Guard’s Quarters and a few other temples’ runs through the center of this area.One among the few least destroyed structures in Hampi, Elephant Stable is a major tourist attraction. This long building with a row of domed chambers was used to ‘park’ the royal elephants. Unfortunately on the eave of the UTSAV, the place was a mess with stages being errected.
STONE DOORS-Camouflaged well into the brown grey background, one can easily miss these pair of fallen doors. The otherwise imposing structures in its immediate vicinity can easily drag your attention away from this low-lying relic. The original structure to which these massive doors were attached to is not known. From the size of it, one can be easily guess that these adorned the entrance of an important royal building.
Inside the Royal area you can see a number of stone aqueducts connecting 20 or so wells and ponds. Most of it is in the ruined stage, but you can still see the sophistication of the water supply system. The giant aqueduct located at the north bank of Tungabadhra at Virupapur Gadde is remarkable.
Aqueducts and Canals
Most of the large canals are lined with path along its course. Most of them are many kilometers long going into far places away from the regular tourist spots
For some mysterious reasons this was called as the queen’s bath. But in all probability this was a royal pleasure complex for the king and his wives.
Locally known as Yeduru Basavanna or Nandi, this monolithic bull marks the east end of the Virupaksha Bazaar. The statue is housed in a twin storied pavilion built on an elevated platform. A heap of gigantic boulders behind the pavilion offers an interesting backdrop. Though partially mutilated and carved in a coarse style, this Nandi attracts visitor owing to its giant size
A flight of steps along the left side of the Nandi pavilion leads you to the Achyuta Raya's Temple located across the hill.
In the west end of Bazaar Street Virupaksha Temple, a temple dedicated to Shiva, is standing. If you follow the street to the opposite end and walk up some steps you will come to a huge Nandi Statue. Nandi is a bull which Shiva rides. A Nandi Statue can often be found in front of Shiva temples as Nandi is also the gate keeper.
This monolithic statue of Nandi is locally known as Yeduru Basavanna (Ride of Lord Shiva).
If you continue the path past the Nandi Statue you will come to Achyutaraya Temple.
Virupaksha Temple is situated in the western end of Hampi Bazaar. It is one of the oldest temples in Hampi and it is believed that there has been a functioning temple here ever since the 7th century. Since then the temple has expanded to a big complex of shrines, courtyards, pillar halls and gateways. The main gateway tower was built in 1442 and it is almost 50 metres high. It can be seen from all around Hampi.
You can enter the first courtyard without paying admission, but if you want to continue in to the inner temples you must pay a small admission and leave your shoes. At the inner part of the temple you are not allowed to take photos.
One attraction in the temple is the temple elephant, Lakshmi, who can give you a blessing with his trunk for a small fee. Unfortunately he was not giving blessings when I visited, but was standing away under a roof.
The main shrine in the temple is dedicated to a form of Shiva, Virupaksha.
The temple is open from dusk to dawn.
When you walk from Hampi Bazaar towards Vittala Temple you will pass Sule Bazaar (which means the Prostitutes Market). Sule Bazaar used to be the centre of commerce in Hampi and merchants from far away came here to sell their goods. Today the 50 metre wide and half a kilometre long street is deserted and overgrown by grass. Along the sides are rows of pillars, both standing and lying pillars. Many of the pillars have beautiful stone carvings.
At the northeast end of Sule Bazaar there is a stepped tank (photo 1) with a small pavilion in the middle of it.
And in the far end of Sule Bazaar is Achyutaraya Temple.
Vittala Temple is a must see on any visit to Hampi. The temple, dedicated to Vittala - a form of Lord Vishnu, was constructed in the 16th century but it has been added to by many kings. The temple complex is in good condition and it is full of beautiful stone carvings.
Seen on many photos from Vittala Temple and Hampi is the big ornate stone chariot standing in the courtyard. Standing in front of the chariot are two stone elephants and it looks like they are pulling the chariot. The elephants have been placed there later because originally there where two stone horses in front of the chariot. Under the chariot you can see traces of paint, and it is believed that all sculptures in Vittala was once painted.
Vittala is also known for its music pillars. They will make a sound when tapped on. Because the pillars have been damaged when people have tapped on them they are now out of reach of the tourists. You can still see them, but not reach out to tap on them
The admission was Rs 250 (June 2010). The ticket is valid the same day for Zenana Enclosure and the Elephants Stable.
The temple is open between 8.30 - 17.30.
Anegundi is a small village about 5 km northeast of Hampi Bazaar, on the other side of Tungabhadra River. Anegundi is older than Hampi and it is an ancient fortified village with many historical monuments and temples to see. It is part of the Hampi World Heritage Site.
In the Kannada language Anegundi means “elephant pit” and it is believed that Anegundi was the place where the Vijayanagara kings kept their elephants. Their capital were just across the river.
In the Hindu epic Ramayana the area around Anegundi is known as Kishkinda, the kingdom of the monkey gods.
I walked from Hampi to Anegundi (and took a boat across the river). In Anegundi I visited the Ranganatha Temple and went to Hoova Craft and Café. In the shop souvenirs made by local women are sold and in the café you can have something to drink or meals. I sat down to drink a coca-cola before continuing. From Anegundi I walked on to Hanumans Temple.
Anegundi is quieter and not as touristy as Hampi. If you want to stay here there are a few guest houses and it is good to know that the Kishkinda Trust helps developing the tourism in a sustainable way.
Achyutaraya Temple was constructed in AD 1534 and it is named after King Achyutaraya as it was built by one of his officers. The temple is dedicated to the deity Lord Tiruvengalantha, who is a form of Vishnu.
I arrived to Achyutaraya Temple through Sule Bazaar. Outside the gates there was a man sitting, but inside the walls I was the only visitor. I liked this temple very much with its grass covered yards and tranquil atmosphere. Leaving the temple I took the steps on the west side back to Hampi Bazaar.