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Hampi Heritage

Hampi
Location : Bellary District, Karnataka
Declared World Heritage Site In : 1986
Entrance Fee : Citizens of India - Rs. 10/- per head (children up to 15 years free)
Others : US $ 5 or Indian Rs. 250/- per head
Visiting Time : sunrise to sunset

Description : Hampi, the last capital of great Hindu Kingdom of Vijayanagar houses some of the finest temples and monuments of world. Constructed between the 14th and 16th centuries, the group of monuments at Hampi are considered as masterpieces of Dravidian style of architecture. In the year 1565, the city was conquered by the Deccan Muslim and later it was abandoned.

The Vijaynagar city ruins near the village of Hampi, are one of the most fascinating historical sites in India. Queen's Bath, Lotus Mahal, the huge Elephant Stables, the splendid Vitthal Temple, the Stone Chariot, the Virupaksha Temple, the Pushkarini Tank, the Mahanavami Dibba, etc are some fascinating features of this city.

Traditionally known as Pampakshetra of Kishkindha. Hampi is situated on the southern bank of the river Tungabhadra. Once it was the seat of the mighty Vijayanagara empire.

The monuments of Vijayanagara city, also known as Vidyanagara in honour of the sage Vidyaranya were built between AD 1336-1570, from the times of Harihara-I to Sadaviva Raya. A large number of royal buildings were raised by Krishnadeva Raya (AD 1509-30), the greatest ruler of the dynasty. The period witnessed resurgence of Hindu religion, art, architecture in an unprecedented scale. The contemporary chroniclers who came from far off countries - such as Arabia, Italy, Portugal and Russia visited the empire, have left graphic and glowing accounts of the city. It covers an area of nearly 26 sq. km and is stated to be enclosed by seven lines of fortifications.

Extensive remains of the palaces can be seen within innermost enclosure of the ancient Vijayanagara. The various religious and secular structures which include Hindu and Jain temples, audience hall of the king, the magnificent throne platform to witness the festivals and other events, the king's balance (tulabhara) are awe-inspiring.

Temples of this city are noted for their large dimensions, florid ornamentation, bold and delicate carvings, stately pillars, magnificent pavilions and a great wealth of iconographic and traditional depictions which include subjects from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The largest extant temple is that of Pampapati (now in worship) was extensively renovated. Its magnificent entrance tower was caused by Krishnadeva Raya. The Vitthala temple is an excellent example of Vijayanagara style. The monilithic statues of Lakshmi, Narasimha and Ganesa are noted for their massiveness and grace. The Krishna temple, Pattabhirama temple, Hazara Ramachandra and Chandrasekhara temple as also the Jaina temples, are other examples. Majority of these temples were provided with widespread bazaars flanked on either side by storyed mandapas. Among secular edifices mention may be made of the Zenana enclosure wherein a massive stone basement of the Queen's palace and an ornate pavilion called 'Lotus-Mahal' are only remnants of a luxurious antahpura. The corner towers of arresting elevation, the Dhananayaka's enclosure (treasury), the Mahanavami Dibba carrying beautifully sculptured panels, a variety of ponds and tanks, mandapas, the elephant's stables and the row of pillared mandapas are some of the important architectural remains of this city.

Recent excavations at the site have brought to light a large number of palatial complexes and basements of several platforms. Interesting finds include a large number of stone images, both in round and relief, beautiful terracotta objects and stucco figures that once embellished the palaces. In addition many gold and copper coins, household utensils, a square stepped-tank (sarovara) at the south-west of Mahanavami Dibba, and a large number of ceramics including the important variety of porcelain and inscribed Buddhist sculptures from sunrise to sunset.

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