Location: Hampi City is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in northern Karnataka, India. Now it’s a part of Bellary district. It is located in the ruins of the city of Vijayanagara (the city of victory) the former capital of the Vijayanagara Empire.
Area: The ruined Capital is spread over hilly terrain of 26 sq. km.
Traditional Name: Pampa-kshetra, Bhaskara-kshetra or Kishkindha-kshetra
Pampa is the old name of the Tungabhadra River (Pampa was Lord Brahma’s daughter, who was later married to Lord Shiva). The site is on the southern bank of Tungabhadra River.
Colonel Colin Mackenzie discovered the ruins of Hampi City in 1800.
UNESCO World Heritage Site, listed as the Group of Monuments at Hampi. Hampi is the most explored historical place in Karnataka on Google.
Historical Importance of Hampi
The important religious centre housing the Virupaksha Temple and several other monuments belonging to the old city. The landscape teems with large stones which have been used to make statues of Jaina deities.
The annual Hampi Utsav or “Vijaya Festival” celebrated since Vijayanagara reign. It is organised by the Government of Karnataka as Nada Festival.
History of Hampi
The first settlements in Hampi date from 1 CE. Earlier than the rise of the Vijayanagara kings, the region was probably in the hands of rulers of Kampili which is now a small town, 19 km east of Hampi.
This region was part of the Maurya Empire during the 3rd century BC according to Emperor Ashoka’s Rock Edicts found in Nittur & Udi Golan.
A Brahmi inscription (oldest writing systems used in South and Central Asia during the last centuries BCE and the initial centuries CE) and a terracotta seal dating to the 2nd century CE were also recovered from the excavation site.
Almost thrice the size of Paris. In around 1500 AD Vijaynagar had about 500,000 inhabitants (supporting 0.1% of the global population during 1440-1540), making it the second largest city in the world after Beijing.
The Empire suffered a major defeat in the year 1565 at the hands of the Confederation of Deccan sultanates. Thereafter the Empire weakened considerably & collapsed by 1646.
Trade: Trade with foreign countries had increased considerably at the time via Calicut port. Many traders & visitors have recorded about the wealth, culture, architecture, food & life style prevalent at the time in Vijayanagara Empire.
The city of Vijayanagara was originally girded by seven lines of defences. The seventh & the innermost citadel enclosed the main city.
The existing monuments of Vijayanagara or Hampi City can be divided into Religious, Civil & Military buildings.
The Jain temples on Hemakuta range, the two Devi shrines and some other structures in the Virupaksha temple complex are older than the Vijayanagara Empire.
The earliest amongst them, the Shiva shrines with their advanced pyramidal vimanas or superstructures, date to the early Chalukyan period around ninth-tenth century AD.
Hampi has various notable Hindu temples with some Vedanta theology inside the temples, some of which are still active places of worship. Housing the Virupaksha, Lakshmi Narasimha, Hemakuta Hill, Big Shivlinga and Vithala temples.
Elephant stables were used to house the eleven royal elephants in King Krishnadeva Raya’s army. The neighbouring building housed the elephant riders of the royal elephants.
Hampi City is rich in several mineral deposits such as iron-ore and manganese because of which mining has been performed for a number of years. A recent inflation for the supply of iron-ore in the international market has led to increased levels of mining in this district. Some feel that the World Heritage Site at Hampi as well as the Tungabhadra Dam is under threat as a consequence.
Non-profit organisation Global Heritage Fund (GHF), in partnership with the Hampi Foundation, Cornell University, and the State of Karnataka, has been actively involved in the conservation of Hampi’s unique cultural heritage. After producing a master conservation plan for the site of Chandramouleshwara Temple, GHF’s efforts have moved to “stabilisation of the temple and its associated structural features.”