The Mythical Stories Behind the Hampi Ruins

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.

Bheema Killing Keechka

Bheema Killing Keechka

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.

Hampi Boulders

Hampi Boulders

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.

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Explore the Rich Heritage of Hampi

Hampi

Hampi

Located in northern Karnataka, Hampi is known as the City of Ruins, which was once the royal capital of Vijayanagara Empire. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it has several exquisite temples, magnificent palaces and forts that glorify the reign of the contemporary rulers. Each monument has an interesting story behind its construction that fascinates many people to take a Hampi tour. The reason of decline of these edifices was mere negligence and non-maintenance. However, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been doing a lot of hard work to refurbish these centuries-old structures.

As the ruins of Hampi are spread across a wider area, it becomes bit difficult to cover all sites without prior knowledge of its various zones. This place is divided into various zones, the information of which helps the tourists plan their trip according to their interests and number of days of vacation. While the Sacred Centre is the area where are set up various temples, the Royal Centre has the ruins of the courtly structures. Among the well-trodden ruins of this town are Hazara Rama Temple Complex, Vittala Temple Complex, Elephant Stables and Gagan Mahal. A tour of these would certainly impress every visitor.

Hampi Map of Ruins

Hampi Map of Ruins

Vittala Temple Complex

Vittala Temple Complex

Vittala Temple Complex

Located opposite Anegondi village on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra River, Vittala Temple is one of the most impressive monuments of Hampi. It is named after Vitthala, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who was worshipped by the Marathas. Renowned for its extensive art work, this 16th century masterpiece is adorned with sculpted pillars. These pillars are intricately carved that speaks volumes about the learned sculptors of the era and the patronage given to the art form by the rulers.

The highlight of this massive structure is the musical pillars that produce the sound of seven notes when tapped. This unique feature created so much curiosity among the British that they cut two of the pillars to check if they had anything inside. To their wonder, there was nothing in it, and these were just hollow pillars. Visitors can still see those pillars cut by the British.

Another prominent feature of this site is the finely detailed stone chariot, which is positioned in the front side of the complex. Used as a symbol of Karnataka Tourism, this chariot is one of the three popular stone chariots in the country, the other two being in Mahabalipuram and Konark.

It is believed that the road leading to this shrine was an erstwhile market where were horses were traded. There are images of people selling horses inside the temple. The complex has been installed with floodlights that provide a great amount of lightning in the evening, thereby adding to the grandeur of the architecture.

People who want to know more about this heritage place can plan a trip with their family and friends. There are many tour operators who arrange family holiday packages to this enchanting place.