Travellers on a trip to Hampi should also visit Virupaksha Temple that is devoted to Lord Shiva and his companion Goddess Pampa. This temple, which has a nine-tiered, 50-metre-high gopuram, is situated on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra river at the foot of the Hemakuta Hill. This temple represents the South Indian Dravidian architectural style and is made using brick and mortar. Also known as Pampapati Temple, it has a sanctum, Mukha Mantapa (Ranga Mandapam), three ante chambers and a pillared hall.
Upon visiting the Virupaksha Temple, tourists will learn that it dates back to the 7th century and has carvings made between 9th and 11th centuries. Initially, this temple enshrined only a few idols and developed into a larger complex as time passed on. The Ranga Mandapam was built in 1510 AD by Krishnadevaraya reflecting the Vijayanagara style of architecture. Pillars, a temple kitchen, lamp posts, towers and other shrines were added afterwards. The prime attractions of the Virupaksha Temple are striking carvings of animals and paintings depicting Hindu myths.
If time permits, tourists can visit the Elephant Stables (also known as Elephant Quarter) that is situated outside the Zenana Enclosure. This ancient monument acted as the resting place for elephants owned by the rulers of this region. Out of all the civil structures in Hampi, Elephant Stables is the best example of Indo-Islamic architectural style.
This structure has eleven rooms of magnanimous proportions and high ceilings; ten out of these eleven rooms are covered with vast domes that are made of brick and mortar. These domes had been constructed in different shapes, such as drum-shaped, octagonal and ribbed. The central dome is the biggest as it was constructed for musicians and band troupes who used to perform during special events involving elephants.
Tourists visiting the Elephant Stables would get the ideal chance to see the iron hook in the interior roof, which was used in ancient time to tie elephants. The mahouts used to enter the compartment via manholes that were situated at the end of each hall.
Vittala Temple is a 16th-century structure that is dedicated to the Lord Vittala or Lord Vishnu. It is a must-see site for all tourists going to Hampi because of its beautiful, complex carvings and magnificent architecture, which is not matched by any other structure located here. This temple, situated on the southern bank of the Tungabhadra river, represents the original South Indian Dravidian temple architectural style. Vitthala Temple was constructed during the reign of King Devaraya II and epitomises the style followed by Vijayanagara Empire.
Visitors are instantly struck by the ornate pillars and intricate carvings of the temple. The outstanding feature of Vitthala Temple is the Ranga Mantapa and 56 musical pillars, which emanate music upon tapping.
The smaller sanctum is open for general public whereas the monumental decoration can be viewed in the bigger outer house. A chariot carved is another major attraction that is present in the courtyard of this temple. Located in the east side of the campus, it has stone wheels that can move despite the weight of the chariot. Numerous pavilions, temples and halls have also been built within the temple complex.
Lotus Palace (a part of Zenana Enclosure) is well known for its Indo-Islamic architectural style. It is a popular palace situated in close proximity to the Hazara Rama Temple. This site has been named Lotus Palace as it includes archways that resemble petals of a lotus flower. The Lotus Mahal, otherwise known as Kamal Mahal and Chitragani Mahal, has two storeys that are embellished with recessed archways.
Queens and their friends belonging to royal families used to meet at the Zenana Enclosure and enjoy the proceedings going on at Lotus Palace. This site acted as an air-cooled summer palace for the queens in ancient times. The Kamal Mahal is one of the few popular structures that have not lost their sheen after the region was seized. However, some signs of vandalism can be found on the outer surface and scriptures. As opposed to majority of historical structures in Hampi, the Lotus Palace has been constructed by combining lime, brick and mortar.
While on a trip to Hampi, tourists should take out time to visit the Zenana Enclosure that is encircled by high walls built from cut stones. It was a site where only women could enter and had been built to protect their privacy rather than safety. Four prominent structures are present inside this enclosure, namely the Queen's Palace, two buildings (that acted as watch towers) and the popular Lotus Palace. During ancient times, this site served as a summer palace for the queens because of numerous openings. The Queen's Palace measures 46 x 29 metres and has been constructed using wood and other non-durable material.
According to historians, as the Zenana Enclosure was reserved for women only, this site was guarded by eunuch soldiers. The two buildings that had been placed in the south-east and north of the Zenana Enclosure served as watchtowers. These were used by the queen and her royal friends to observe the activities happening outside. The beautiful Lotus Palace, which reflects Indo-Islamic architectural style, is a two-storeyed arched pavilion that acted as a meeting place for royal women. Tourists visiting the Zenana Enclosure can go to the Elephant Stables that are situated behind the site, where royal elephants rested.
The Chandramouleshwara Temple, a 15th century Hindu place of worship, is one of the main tourist attractions of Hampi. It is situated at the centre of Hampi and is located in line with the primary axis of Vitthala Temple. Tourists visiting the Chandramouleshwara Temple will get the chance to see the two popular rivers that flow through Hampi. They can take a trip to the sacred mountain located in the city. A pilot project has been started at this temple in a bid to restore this state protected monument under the UNESCO World Heritage Site initiative. Chandramouleshwara Temple holds the distinction of being amongst the most architecturally exquisite temples on the list of the sites considered endangered by UNESCO.
Badava Linga, a 9 ft tall temple, is situated in close proximity to Lakshmi Narasimha Temple. The unique fact about Badava Linga is that this structure is permanently enclosed by the water that runs via an ancient channel. The monolithic linga has been carved with three eyes, which represent the three eyes of Lord Shiva. It is suggested that all travellers crossing Hampi should visit this temple if time permits.
According to local beliefs, a poor native aboriginal called Hampi promised to construct a Shivalinga if his wishes are fulfilled. Lord Shiva decided to help this poor devotee by fulfilling his wishes. Afterwards, the devotee carved out the Badava Linga from a big stone that he dedicated to Lord Shiva. Another legend says that this linga was sanctioned by a peasant woman, who named it Badava Linga as badava literally means “poor” in the local language.
Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple is popular among travellers for the 6.7 metre monolith statue of Narasimha (an avatar of Lord Vishnu) that is seated on the coil of Adisesha, a seven-headed snake. According the information derived from inscriptions found at this temple, this site was completed in 1528 AD, during the reign of King Krishnadevaraya. Originally, the idol had the figure of Goddess Lakshmi on Lord Narasimha's lap.
During 1565 AD, the figure of Goddess Lakshmi was vandalised. At present the idol of Goddess Lakshmi has been kept at Kamalapura Museum. However, the idol of Narasimha with bulging eyes and delineated mane still attracts a majority of tourists. The idols of Lord Narasimha and Goddess Lakshmi were carved out from a single boulder.
Unlike architects from South India, the Sangamas used granite for constructing the Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Temple. However, the granite was not applicable for the delicate filigree work that could be done on schist, a softer material. In order to make up for the absence of intricate designs, the architects decided to build a massive structure.
The Archaeological Museum at Kamalapura is visited by tourists primarily because of two models of Hampi that display the topography of the region in detail. Visitors will get the chance to find out the different attractions of the area through these models. The small model is situated inside the last gallery and provides a comprehensive and detailed view of the Royal Centre.
There are four principal divisions of this archaeological museum; the first one houses the above mentioned Hampi models; the second division includes idols and sculptures belonging to Hampi ruins; the third division showcases arms, coins, tools and other items that were used in the Vijayanagara period; the fourth division is home to some of the most ancient objects from proto-historic and prehistoric period. Hero stones, sati stones, miniature replica of the Royal Centre, portions of porcelain pottery and stucco figurines are some of the items found in the fourth section.
The Archaeological Museum remains closed on Fridays and national holidays; it remains open from 10 am till 5 pm on all other days. It is suggested to all tourists looking forward to a visit to Hampi.
Hazara Rama Temple, situated in the midst of the Royal Enclosure, is one of the prime attractions of Hampi. This site was used only for ceremonial processions and is renowned among devotees for its bas-relief sculptures that represent important events that occurred in Ramayana. It is one of the popular temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu in Hampi region. The walls of this temple are adorned with 15th century artwork, such as carvings of elephants, horses, soldiers and dancing girls.
Four ornately carved granite pillars enhance the exquisiteness of the Ardha Mantapa. Tourists visiting the Hazara Rama Temple can explore the architectural and cultural heritage that existed during the rule of former kings. One of the unique things about this temple is the carvings that are present outside compound walls. It houses an image of Lord Buddha, who was the ninth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Zenana Enclosure and Lotus Mahal are some of the attractions that are located in close proximity of Hazara Rama Temple.
Going by the references mentioned in the epic Ramayana, Anjanadri Hill is considered to be the birthplace of Lord Hanuman. A beautiful Hanuman temple had been constructed as a tribute to the monkey god. This temple is situated on top of the Anjanadri Hill. Travellers need to climb 570 steps in order to reach the Hanuman temple. They will encounter several monkeys while climbing the hill on their way to the temple. It is suggested that all devotees of Lord Hanuman should visit this site.
Hampi region has numerous irrigation canals that are connected to palaces, temples, tanks and agricultural lands. Majority of them were built during the Vijayanagara period. Raya Canal (King's Canal), Turthu Canal (Fast Canal), Kamalapura water tank and Basavanna Canal (Nandi or Bull Canal) were constructed by Vijayanagara kings. Some of the canals, especially the ones that run along the valley region, are still used for agricultural purposes. It is suggested to all people who want to see the waterways developed by architects and city planners in ancient times. According to popular folklore, Lord Rama performed the last ritual for his father at Turthu Canal. This canal is located in proximity of the Lakshmi Narasimha statue that comes while tourists are travelling from Kamalapura to Hampi. Innumerable stone aqueducts can be seen inside the Royal Enclosure. All stone aqueducts are connected to 20 ponds and wells. Though, majority of them have been manipulated, people can still see the water supply system built during the ancient period. One of the largest aqueducts in Hampi can be found at Virupapur Gadde.
Travellers planning their trip to Hampi must visit the Sasivekalu Ganesha Temple that is situated at the foot of Hemakuta Hill. This temple is popular for its 8 ft Ganesha idol that resembles mustard seeds. Owing to its resemblance with mustard seeds, natives have named this idol as Sasivekalu Ganesha. According to mythology, Lord Ganesha ate beyond his limit and afterwards tied a snake around his stomach in order to prevent it from bursting.
The idol has been carved out of a single boulder, wherein the deity's right hands are seen holding a broken tusk and the ankusa. The upper left hand contains a looped pasa while lower left hand and the trunk are separated from the monolith.
On reaching Sasivekalu Ganesha, visitors will notice that the idol is surrounded by a large pavilion. As per the information provided by inscriptions, this pavilion was built in 1506 AD by a merchant from Chandragiri. He sculpted this pavilion in honour of King Narasimha II of the Vijayanagara dynasty.
Travellers visiting Hampi cannot afford to miss the Underground Temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva (Prasanna Virupaksha). This temple has been constructed below ground level and the main segments and sanctum of the site remain underwater most of the time. Entry to the inner regions has been restricted, though a dry canal allows tourists to enter the structure to a point.
The Underground Temple has been regarded as one of the oldest temples in Hampi and is a popular tourist attraction. The site is situated in proximity of the Noblemen's Quarters near the main road, close to Hampi bus stand. Visitors can get access to the temple via the main tower that is situated in front of the campus.
Large steps and the sanctum will lead visitors to the inside of the Underground Temple. The main hall is located in front of the shrine along with cubicle pillars that are supporting the roof. Travellers can get the chance to visit the sanctum area according to the water level at the given point of time. The temple is surrounded by a beautiful lawn.