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Wealthiest city of India in 1500 CE


Located in Karnataka near the modern-era city of Hosapete/Hospet, Hampi's ruins are spread over 4,100 hectares and that includes "forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures".

Why Wealthiest

In the 14th Century, Hampi became the center of Vijayanagara Empire capital. When the Portuguese, Persians left India, they left most of the chronicles in India. Due to which, Hampi was a prosperous, wealthy and grand city. By 1500 CE, Hampi was the world's second richest city, after Beijing. It's wealth attracted traders from across the Deccan area, Persia and Portuguese colony of Goa.

History

According to historical memoirs left by Portuguese and Persian traders to Hampi, the city was of metropolitan proportions; they called it "one of the most beautiful cities". While prosperous 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.

They captured and beheaded the king followed by a massive destruction of the infrastructure fabric of Hampi and the metropolitan Vijayanagara. The city was pillaged, looted and burnt for six months after the war, then abandoned as ruins, which are now called the Group of Monuments at Hampi.

Hampi predates the Vijayanagara Empire; there is evidence of Ashokan epigraphy, and it is mentioned in the Ramayana and the Puranas of Hinduism as Pampaa Devi Tirtha Kshetra. 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.

Monuments at Hampi

Hampi is divided in two parts by Tungabhadra river. On one side, there are all the monuments and on the other side, you can visit Hampi village where most of the people live. You need cross the river by boat, there is no other option.

Virupaksha Temple - The Virupaksha temple is the oldest shrine, the principal destination for pilgrims and tourists, and remains an active Hindu worship site. Parts of the Shiva, Pampa and Durga temples existed in the 11th-century; it was extended during the Vijayanagara era. The temple is a collection of smaller temples, a regularly repainted, 50-metre high gopuram.

Krishna Temple - The Krishna temple, also called Balakrishna temple, on the other side of Hemakuta hill, is about 1 km south of Virupaksha temple. It is dated to 1515 CE; this part of the Hampi complex is called Krishnapura in inscriptions. In front of the ruined temple is a long market street, also referred to locally as the bazaar.

Vitthala Temple - The Vitthala temple and market complex is over 3 kilometres north-east of the Virupaksha temple near the banks of the Tungabhadra River. It is the most artistically sophisticated Hindu temple in Hampi, and is part of the sacred centre of Vijayanagara. It is unclear when the temple complex was built, and who built it; most scholars date it to a period of construction in the early-to-mid-16th century.

Hazara Rama Temple - The Hazara Rama temple, occupied the western part of the urban core in the royal centre section of Hampi. 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 the early 15th century and is attributed to Devaraya I. The temple's outer walls portray the Hindu Mahanavami (Dasara) and the spring Holi festival procession and celebrations in parallel bands of artwork. The lowest band shows marching elephants, above it are horses led by horsemen, then soldiers celebrated by the public, then dancers and musicians, with a top layer depicting a boisterous procession of the general public.

Public Square Platform - The Mahanavami platform, monument, is within a 7.5-hectare enclosure at one of the highest points inside the royal centre (urban core). It has ceremonial structures. It is mentioned in the memoirs of foreigners who visited Vijayanagara, some calling it the "House of Victory". The largest monument in this complex has three ascending square stages leading to a large, square platform that likely had a wooden mandapa above it. This was burnt down during the destruction of Hampi.

Water Infrastructure - The Vijayanagara empire built an extensive water infrastructure, some examples of which—including the Manmatha tank near Virupaksha temple, which is dated to about the 9th century predates the Vijayanagara. Excavations in the 1980s near the Mahanavami platform in the urban core revealed a large, square-stepped tank that was fed by an aqueduct.

Elephant Stables and Zanana Enclosure - In the east of the royal centre lies the Gajashala, or elephant stables, which consist of eleven square chambers aligned north-south. The openings to the stables are arched; above ten chambers are alternating fluted and plain domes. In the middle of the stables are stairs to reach the roof. The Zenana enclosure contains the Lotus Mahal, the latter being a two-storeyed pavilion in the royal centre. The Lotus Mahal combines a symmetrical, square, 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.

Ganagitti Temple Complex - The Ganigitti Jain temple is near Bhima's gate in the south-east of the urban core section of Hampi. In front of it is a monolithic lamp pillar. It is dedicated to Tirthankara Kunthunatha and has plain walls, a pillared mandapa and a square sanctum from which the Jina's statue is missing. There are capitals on the pillars and the doorways have decoration.

Other attractions at Hampi

Anjeyanadri Hills - This place is known as birthplace of Lord Hanuman. The temple is on hill, you need to trek till there. The trekking route has around 600 steps and route is awesome. Once reached on top, you can see whole view of Hampi and it's ruined sites. Trek in the morning hours, carry some food and water. You can hire bike or auto-rickshaw to reach till base. One can hithike from main road once you come other side. You will get lift easliy as it is busy road.

Sanapur Lake - It is around 5KM from ferry point where you will arrive from Hampi. You need to hire motorbike or bicycle to reach there as it is little bit offside from main road. You can reach there by four wheelers as well. Boating is available at lake, in small boats. Swimming is allowed at lake. Many people carry liquor with them and enjoy scenic view.

How to Reach

Hampi is situated on the banks of the Tungabhadra River in the eastern part of central Karnataka near the state border with Andhra Pradesh. It is 376 KM from Bangalore, 385 KM from Hyderabad.

By Rail - Hosapete is nearest railway station for Hampi around 12 KM.

By Bus - State transport buses are available from Mysore, Hyderabad, Bengaluru till Hosapete or Hampi. From Hosapete, local buses or autos are available to reach Hampi.

By Flight - Hubli is domestic airport about 160 KM from Hampi. Trains and state transport buses are available till Hosapete. Flights are available from all the major cities of India.

Roaming around Hampi

Hampi is divided into two parts, so in 1 Day you can visit all the monuments and on second day, you can go to other part of Hampi. You can take Auto-Rikshaw to see monuments. They will charge around Rs. 300 and 3 people can sit in one Auto. Also, you can hire bicycle. I don't about charges. You won't get motorbike to hire, as per local it is not allowed. On the other part of Hampi, you can hire motorbike. As soon as, you get down from boat/ferry, you will see many vendors. From moped to gear bikes, everything is available.

My Experience

When we visited Hampi, I was in Mysuru (Mysore earlier) for training. I was in my office library in the morning with my friend. We saw one book on Hampi in library. We were just going through the book and it was friday on that day. In the 10 minutes, we made plan to visit Hampi and shared it with friends. In the next 15 minutes, total 11 people were ready for Hampi trip.

We searched for the train and luckily we found one which leaves from Mysuru itself. We checked available seats for reservation and we were so much luck on that day because we found 12 seats available in sleeper class. We booked the seats in no time and we were ready to leave for Hampi in the evening.

We reached Hosapete around 7.30 in the morning, the train was delayed. Local buses are available outside of railway station for Hampi. We took the bus and in half an hour we were in Hampi. First task was to search for the hotel, we found one near to Hampi market for around Rs.250 per room. We quickly got freshened up and left for sightseeing. We asked for bike renting but the hotel owner said, bikes are not allowed in this part of Hampi. However, one can rent bicycles or take autos.

We booked auto for Rs.200 per auto for the tour of all the monuments and finally the journey started. Auto driver will take you to all the monuments. You can visit monuments at your pace, no hurry. They will wait for you. Ask them restaurants for lunch, they will suggest you. We were mostly eating street food available near monuments. One good restaurant "The Food Point" is available near "Underground temple." Ask drivers, they will suggest you. We were back to Hampi market in the evening around 7 and it was time to explore market.

Market is good and quite big. Most of the restuarants, hotels, hostels are available near to market. T-shirts, jewellary, ornaments and tatto shops are also there. Foreign cuisine is also available in some restaurants. Most of the people suggest us the "Mango Restaurant." When we searched on internet, google was suggesting the same restuarant. The ambience is quite good. Sitting arrangement is also nice. And no complaints about food, it was nice.

Next day, we went to the other side of Hampi. You need cross the river by boat. The charges were Rs.10 PP. The other is little bit crowded. On the other side, you can hire bike if you want. We hired mopeds for around Rs.200 per bike. From there, you can go to Sanapur lake and Anjeyanadri hills. Roads quite good, weather was awesome. In the evening, we were back to Hampi market, we roamed market, did some shopping and in the night caught KSRTC (Karnataka State Transport) bus for Mysuru from Hampi itself. And in the morning, we reached at Mysuru peacefully.

The overall experience of Hampi was great. Though, we were there only for 2 days, but it was awesome. The monuments are really good and some of them are almost ruined. You can imagine the lifestyle of emperor's life once you visit these monuments.

When to visit

The best time to visit Hampi is winter that is from November to February. Summers will be hot in Hampi. In the rainy season, you won't be able to travel much easily as it will be muddy around monuments. But, there will be much more greenery around monuments so the scenery will be great. It will be great sight for pictures.

Take the ride of this small boat at Sanapur Lake.

Food and Stay

Plenty of restaurants and hotels are available in Hampi. From budget to luxury, everything is available at your choice. Local people will suggest you "Mango Restaurant" is which available near to Market. I don't know the name of hotel where we stayed but we got room for Rs. 250. For hot water, they charged us Rs.20 per bucket. If you are traveling in winter then please book hotels in advance as it is peak time for tourists.

Mobile Network

All the mobile networks will work in Hampi. There is no issue with internet as well. Try to carry BSNL sim card, it will definitely work in remote areas.

Let me know in the comments about experiences of Hampi.

*All the images are copyrighted to TowardsTheOtherWorld. Do not use without permission.

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