Hampi was the imperial capital of the great Vijayanagar empire that flourished 500 year ago. Even today, each rock among the ruins speaks volumes of the grandeur and majesty of the “City of Victory” that flourished and rivalled Rome in terms of beauty, magnitude and population.
Hampi, also described as the Pompeii of India, is a dream come true for archaeologists, historians, art-lovers and tourists. It is dotted with forts, palaces, barracks, temples, sculptures, baths, irrigation canals and bazaar ruins. Temples of this city are noted for their large dimensions, florid ornamentation, bold and delicate carvings, stately pillars, and magnificent pavilions.
Most of Hampi is early 16th century, built during the 20-year reign of the great Vijayanagar ruler, Krishna Deva Raya (1509 -1529).
Travellers and writers like Abdur Razak, Nicolo Conti and Domingo Paes were witnesses to the pomp and grandeur of Hampi. “What I saw seemed as large as Rome and very beautiful to the sight; it is undoubtedly the best provided city in the world,” said Peas.
The travellers speak volumes of the Vijaynagar emperors’ patronage to religion, art and architecture. The empire grew in strength and splendour and resisted all onslaughts till 1565 before it fell under the armies of five united Muslim neighbours, who defeated the kingdom in the battle of Talikota. The Muslim kings then ransacked the city for six months by which time it was turned into a pile of ruins.
Hampi Bazaar has almost returned to its former glory with the old buildings being functional again. Traders once more ply their wares but now its mostly branded, packaged, with ‘sales tax extra’! This area has a charm of its own and much of it has to do with the fascinating phenomenon of renaissance.
The magnificent ruins come alive during the lively festival of dance and music, held in the first week of November. Organised by the Government of Karnataka, the Hampi festival includes dance, drama, music, fireworks; puppet shows and spectacular processions, all combine to recreate the grandeur of the bygone era.
When: First week of November
Where: Hampi village, Hospet district, 353 km from Bangalore
Accommodation: Comfortable, budget hotels in Hampi Bazaar
To get there: Take the night train from Bangalore, get down at Hospet station and take cab or rickshaw to