10 Fascinating Facts about Hampi

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Hampi is a land submerged in history, a story that glorifies it and haunts it at the same time. This UNESCO heritage site popped up on the map of tourism when the NY Times ranked it at second place among the best tourist places to visit in the world in 2019. Let’s begin with a few familiar facts about Hampi.

It is located in Karnataka, a state in western India. It has scattered ruins of some of the world’s most stunning temples and monuments. These are together known the “Hampi group of monuments” which was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hampi holds importance for being the capital of the former Vijayanagara Empire, a kingdom that was synonymous to wealth and prosperity.

These are the commonly known things about Hampi. Your first step in this mysterious landfills your mind with awe and curiosity. Why are the monuments reduced to ruins? Where did the idols in the temples disappear? Why are so many rocks and boulders lying scattered around? These questions would inspire you to learn more about Hampi. Here are 10 fascinating Hampi facts that are widely unknown to many.

10 Fascinating Facts about Hampi

1. A tale spanning thousands of years

The historic existence of the region can be traced back to the Mauryan period, in 238 BCE. King Ashoka the Great had conquered nearly the entire Indian sub-continent. Some of the greatest emperors in history successively ruled this region from the 5th century till the 13th. These include The Chalukyas of Badami, the Rashtrakutas, the Chalukyas of Kalyana, and the Hoysalas (11-13th century). Hampi had religious significance for Hindus but was not administratively important in these empires.

Meanwhile, the Islamic invaders from middle-east Asia had already acquired a regime in North India. In an endeavor to prevent their advance to the south, the kings of southern kingdoms united to consolidate this grand, most prosperous kingdom of the time – the Vijayanagara empire. They relocated the capital here and commenced the golden era of Hampi.

2. Origin of the Name Hampi

Hampi was formerly known as Pampa-Kshetra after Hindu Deity Pampa (refers to Goddess Parvati). Hindu mythology states that Goddess Parvati led the life of a yogini in the Hemkunta hills of Hampi, to persuade Shiva to marry her. Consequently, the river that flows along the Hemkunta hill came to be called the Pampa river and the land was named Pampa Khestra. The place later became Pampe in Kannada and Hampi in the anglicized version of this name. The Pampa River is the current magnificent Tungabhadra River which has the facility to enjoy a coracle ride.

3.Association with Ramayana

Hampi is an ancient city, but throughout history, people have revered the place holy for many reasons. Along the story of Shiv-Parvati, the Pampa-kshetra also holds a significant spot in the Hindu epic Ramayana. It is considered to be the monkey kingdom Kishkinda, where Lord Ram met his loyal devotee, Hanuman. The monkey army joined Rama’s army to build a bridge of stones across the sea to help him reach Lanka and ascend a war against Lanka.

It is evident that the stories inspired so many temples and their stone carvings. The Hemkunta hill is decorated with temples from the 7th century to the 14th century, primarily dedicated to Shiva and Parvati. The Hanuman temple in North Hampi is devoted to Lord Hanuman who blessed this place with his presence.

4. The Mystical Rocks of Hampi

While the marvelous architecture is its claim to fame, the landscape of Hampi is equally mesmerising. The scattered rocks capture attention immediately. The stories behind them are intriguing. Geologically this region is a part of the Dharwar Craton. A craton is one of those rare pieces of the land that has remained untouched by volcanic or tectonic movements for many years. These could account to tens of millions, even billions of years! The rocks of Hampi are created by longterm erosional activity that broke down giant monoliths that existed in prehistoric ages.

Hindu mythology gives another explanation for the same. According to Ramayana, the North Hampi is part of the Kishkinda, the monkey kingdom where Lord Ram encountered Hanuman. The rocks were apparently flown all over Hampi during a fierce war ensued between two monkey-brothers who fought for the ascend to throne of this kingdom. The magical blend of history, geography, and mythology into one experience is Hampi.

5. An International Trading Centre

Hampi was the financial and administrative capital city of the Vijayanagara empire. It spread across 4000 hectares and was the second biggest city in the medieval world, after only Beijing. It was one of the largest and busiest international trade centres in the world in the 14th and 15th century. A well-established notion supported by records suggests that precious stones were sold in the open at Hampi Bazaar, besides textile, spices and everything under the sun.

People from across the world travelled to Hampi for business and became fond of it. The quotes from the books authored by several travel writers like Arabs, Portuguese and Italian of that time are available in the Archaeological Museum of Hampi. Hampi’s business and trade was at its peak in medieval India. The Vijayanagara kingdom had brought the whole of south India under its fold by 1529.

6. How was Hampi reduced to ruins?

The downfall of the kingdom was rather dramatic and abrupt. After 200 years of glory, the Muslim ruler destroyed the monuments and looted the wealth. The Deccan sultans allied with the local lords of neighbouring smaller kingdoms and attacked Hampi in 1565.

Historians are left perplexed by the rather anti-climactic decline of such a powerful empire. It’s reasoned that the enduring rebellions from local Hindu Kings like the Nayakas also deteriorated the defence of Hampi. That’s why Hampi does not reflect its former glory unlike the palaces and castles of Rajasthan. Its ruins give a hint and leave us to imagine the grandeur of the most prosperous empires that ever existed. This also explains the causes of the dysfunctional temples of Hampi and disappearance of most of the idols of God.

7. One of the world’s most ancient active temples

The Virupaksha temple is the most renowned and visited building in Hampi. It is understood that Lord Shiva married Goddess Parvati in the exact place. While most temples in Hampi are not functional, Virupaksha temple is one of the oldest living Hindu temples in the world. This marvellous piece of architecture is situated at the Hampi Bazaar. It was built in the 7th century, late enhanced during the Chalukya era. The temple in its current stature was created during the Vijayanagara era. Astonishingly this temple survived the worst assaults of Hampi’s history including the invasion that devastated the city.

The temple is also known as Pampavathi temple referring to Shiva’s wife Pampa. The temple is also famous for the cute elephant Hampi who greets the pilgrims at the gate of the temple. There is a small opening in the wall of the temple which displays a pin-hole camera effect during the day as the sun-rays enter through it creating an inverted image of the main tower. The walls of the temple also display some erotic sculptures. Another well-known dynamic temple in Hampi is the Hanuman temple.

8. The Vijayanagara coin mint

The coin mint of the Vijayanagara kingdom was situated inside the Zenana section of Hampi. It was the sole place where coins were manufactured and circulated from. There are several of these original coins with engravings of birds, animals and Hindu deities inside the archaeological museum of Hampi. The coins were made of copper, silver, and gold and used as the currency of the Vijayanagara empire.

9. The Exciting Wildlife of Hampi

Along with historical monuments and scenic beauty, there is one more reason to visit this place. It boasts of sheltering rare and amazing wildlife creatures. Hampi is an enthralling bird-watching destination. It has several rare species of birds and reptiles and squirrels in abundance. The Daroji wildlife sanctuary at a few kilometres distance to the south of Hampi is native to the endangered Indian Sloth bear.

Antelopes, peafowls and an impressive range of flora and fauna are found in abundance. It was formerly a deserted hillock like the rest of Hampi, but with admirable measures of the Karnataka government, it has now been developed into a green oasis.

10. The Melodic pillars of Hampi

The architecture and grandeur of Hampi was applauded by worldwide travellers like the Arabs, Portuguese and Italians. The iconic stone chariot of the Vijaya Vittala temple of north Hampi may be the symbol of Hampi, but more amazements await inside. Step in the gates of the Vittala temple complex and arrive at the temple with musical pillars. That’s right. When tapped gently at the right spots, music emanates from these pillars. They are widely famous as the SAREGAMA pillars for the same reason. Hindu temples were a juncture for worship art and education to collaborate and celebrate since time immemorial. Dance and music are inseparable aspects of the religion so the mind can effortlessly imagine classical dance and musical performances charming the hall of the temple here.


Hampi is a one-of-a-kind destination that gives you a religious, cultural, historic, natural and scenic experience all at the same time. Whether you are fascinated by the history of the great empire or keen to meet wildlife creatures, it calls you with curiosity and inspiration. The photographic landscape and monuments allure a traveller to visit and the mythical stories leave him stunned.

Read also30 Unknown Facts About India That Even Indians Are Unaware Of

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