The state of Karnataka which is polished with a wide range of beaches, lush green jungles, deep valleys and magnanimous mountains is also home to some of the most jaw-dropping architecture. Many of these monuments are centuries old and stands as proud as it did once in its glorious era. These have been put together by some of the finest leaders of the past and have been left behind for the eyes of the future.
The ancient village of Hampi is home to some of these beautiful structures that has caught the eyes of many travelers from around the world. Out of the many UNESCO world heritage sites in Karnataka, Hampi stands out among the rest through its architectural brilliance which is a reflection of the excellent craftmanship of the past. The ruined temple complexes of Hampi were established by the Vijayanagara Empire. Vijayanagara, which translates into ‘City of Victory, was one of the largest Hindu empires in India. The empire flourished under the rule of the two brothers, Harihar and Bukka, with Hampi as its proud capital city and reached its zenith during the time of Krishnadevaraya.
Adorning the center of the modern Hampi, located in front of the huge Vittala Temple site, is the carved stone chariot which is the most popular attraction of the place. It stands tall on the platform which is a foot high and though it looks like a chariot, it is a shrine dedicated to the Garuda who is the carrier of Lord Vishnu. According to Mythology, the chariot once contained the icon of Garuda, though it’s empty now. Carved into the stone pieces at the bottom of the chariot are the battle scenes and a series of concentric floral motifs which continues along the wheels.
Even though it may lie stationary, the wheels of the chariot are equipped with a wheel’s axis and even a brake, resembling a real-life wheel. The undercarriage of the chariot spots one of the best-preserved specimens of this kind of paintings. It is believed that the entirety of the Vittala Temple sculptures were painted in with naturally used medium. There was even a dome like superstructure over the chariot which is missing now. Little has changed over the years since its creation and the many lively features of the chariot makes it look battle ready even today. The absolute beauty of this architectural marvel makes it one of the must visit places in Hampi.
Like Vittala Temple build in the 16th century, there are many others which add to the historic ambience of the site. Hampi houses the Virupaksha, Lakshmi Narasimha, Hemakuta Hill and Big Shivlinga temples. Tourist flock to the region to capture the stunning shots of the land mixed with the architecture mapped across the city. The 15th century Virupaksha temple is located at the south of the Hampi Bazaar area which is another popular tourist hotspot. Hemakuta Hill, south of the Virupaksha temple, contains ancient ruins, Jain temples, and a monolithic sculpture of Lord Narasimha.
The festivities of Hampi are also a striking feature of the place. Every year between the months of January and February, the town celebrates its annual festivals Hampi Utsava, cultural extravaganza and Purandaradasa Aradhana in honour of the Kannada saint composer Purandara Dasa who is considered to be the Father of Carnatic music.
With its many attractions and lush greenery surrounding it, Hampi is a perfect blend of paradise for tourists across the world, who enjoy to witness the testament of the glorious past of the state.
Image courtesy Arunjayantvm, Dey.sandip, V Adithya Kamath from Wikimedia Commons
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