Hampi Lives On

Achyutaraya Temple, one of the last temples to be erected at Hampi, as seen from Matanga Hill. The sunrise view is highly recommended.
Photographer: Vachana Shetty

Declared a Unesco World Heritage Site, the magnificent capital of the Vijayanagar Empire is an open-air museum of 20 elaborate temples and other smaller structures.

How often have you struggled to understand the adulation a destination commands from travellers — especially one that is only an overnight bus ride away from you? The grandiose, dramatic ruins of Hampi, the last capital of the Hindu kingdom of Vijayanagar in Karnataka, attract people from all over the world. I often wondered what it was like, but didn’t make that easy trip to find out for myself. Thanks to Aishwarya, the friend who almost hijacked me to Hampi, I am much the wiser today. What started as just another holiday with friends, lives on in my heart as a love affair with history.

Sadly, this marvellous slice of history also has its own battles — against ugly concretisation in its surrounding areas. And some scars were inflicted by invaders in Medieval India. The scars haven’t quite healed but Hampi can still bowl you over. Hampi is believed to be the Kishkinda, the monkey kingdom in Ramayana ruled by Sugreeva. The legend of Ramayana walks hand in hand with the history of the Vijayanagar kingdom, which lived its golden age under King Krishna Deva Raya in the early 16th century. The ruins of Hampi are strewn across the banks of River Tungabhadra. Thanks to the boulders that add drama to the riverscape, Hampi is now also a destination for those like rock climbing and bouldering.

Achyutaraya Temple, one of the last temples to be erected at Hampi, as seen from Matanga Hill. The sunrise view is highly recommended.
Photographer: Vachana Shetty
Boulders on the banks of the Tungabhadra — the rocky formations are good places to sit and soak in the ambience.
Photographer: Vachana Shetty
The eleven dome-shaped stables were constructed for the royal elephants.
Photographer: Vachana Shetty
The Lotus Mahal, probably a rest house for royalty, is a blend of Hindu and Muslim architectural styles.
Photographer: Vachana Shetty
Virupaksha Temple, dedicated to an incarnation of Shiva, is the nucleus of Hampi. The town is practically spread around the active temple with plenty of devotees coming here to worship.
Photographer: Vachana Shetty

PHOTOGRAPHER'S BIO: Vachana Shetty is the winner of Lonely Planet Travel Contest hosted by ambitionMe. AmbitionMe is an education venture with the mission to help youngsters discover and connect with their dream careers. More on: www.ambitionme.com

One Comment

    • Renuka

      December 18, 2014, 6:30:43 pm

    • I have been to Hampi just recently, and I must say it is an impressive historical place. In fact, it is much more than the heritage sites. There is so much more to discover – the rustic landscapes, the carefree local vibe and lovely sunsets.

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