Hampi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site famous worldwide for its ruins. In the medieval times, Hampi was the capital of Vijayanagar kingdom but the history of its existence predates the Vijayanagar Empire. There are many things about this forgotten city which attract tourists to this place. Once here, you would find that there are structures of civilian, military and religious importance. Also striking is the boulder-ridden topography of the region which archaeologists believe to be one of the oldest exposed surfaces of earth. It looks almost unbelievable when one sees these heavy boulders lain one over the other with full stability. Quite a few mythological tales are also associated with Hampi which give it its religious character. This article is to bring to light these mythical tales about Hampi.
The Lord Shiva Connection
Hampi is said to bear the name of Pampakshretra which is derived from Pampa, a devotee of Lord Shiva who married him afterwards. After the marriage, there was a shower of gold from sky which is now in the form of a hill called Hemkunta Hill. Virupaksha temple is devoted to Lord Shiva and its literal meaning is ‘one with oblique eye’. There is also the Pampa sarovar where Pampa did penance before marrying Lord Shiva.
The Ramayana Connection
This place is also associated with the mythical Ramayana as the Kingdom of Monkeys, Kishkindha, is believed to be the region around Hampi. Anjayaneya Hill is believed to be the birth place of Lord Hanuman. When Ravana was taking Sita along, Sita dropped her jewels her. Also, Ram and Laxman are believed to have taken shelter at nearby Malyavanta Hill when it began to rain while laying the stone bridge to Lanka. That the place might have been a part of Ramayana myth is also testified by the fact that the ruins have more icons of Hanuman than of any other deity. The Rishimukh hill is the place where Hanuman had met Ram and Laxman.
The Mahabharata Connection
The place is also related to the mythology of Mahabharata. It is the place where Bhima meets Lord Hanuman while on way to bring the magnificent Saugandhika flower from Gandhamadana Hill for Draupadi. Hanuman asks Bhima to lift his tail from his way and keep it aside. But, Bhima is not able to do it despite best efforts.
Another episode of Mahabharata which is depicted on the rock relics of this place is that of Bhima killing Keechaka, the brother-in-law of ruler of Virata, during the period of their secret exile.
There is also a mythical story associated with boulders. These are said to have been lain so during the course of intense fight between Sugriva and Bali in which these were thrown at one another. Another reason for the presence of these boulders is that these were compiled here for the purpose of laying the Lanka water bridge.
These are some of the interesting tales which you would often get to hear during the Karnataka tour to this religiously important place.