Hampi was in its glory 700 years ago. It was the capital of the famous Vijayanagara empire. The city is in absolute ruins now. But during the time when it was alive, it was known for its splendor, grandeur, and fabulous wealth far beyond the shores of India.
Hampi was destroyed by Mughal invaders in 1565.
Hampi is located in the northern part of Karnataka state of India, on the banks of the Tungabhadra river, and is about 343 kilometers from Bangalore. The ruins of Hampi is scattered over a 26 square kilometer area amidst boulders and vegetation.
The following quotation from the Karnataka Government Tourism Department’s web site http://www.karnataka.com/tourism/hampi/) summarizes Hampi:
"The splendid remains of palaces and gateways of the broken city tells a tale of man's infinite talent and power of creativity together with his capacity for senseless destruction.
Strewn over a large area (about nine square miles) the ruins at Hampi offers to the tourist a remainder of the greatest land in the whole world. Every rock, every path and every monument at Hampi speak the same language; a language of glory and beauty."
Hampi has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. After long neglect, in March 2002, the Government of India has announced that Hampi would be developed as an international tourists destination centre.
Religions of Hampi
Religion was one of the strong inspirations in Hampi. Its religious history is much older than the political history. Both the subjects and their rulers of this place had an almost innate faith in God.
The far end of religious history of Hampi somehow morphs into mythology. The significant events narrated in the Hindu epic Ramayana (believed to have originally composed in 1st century BC) is believed to have happened in the settings surrounding Hampi. The most imperative is the section narrating the monkey kingdom – Kishkinda. Hinduism in Hampi had two major sects. The Saivaites and the Vasihnavites. The former worships the destroyer God Shiva whereas the later worships Lord Vishnu (the preserver or maintainer). Both of these cults of Hinduism had been (and still is) in practice in Hampi. And then there are a number of sub-cults of branched out of these faiths. Out of these two, the Shiva worship had been the oldest in Hampi. The epicenter of this cult was the Virupaksha temple. Even today it is one of the important pilgrimage centre for Shiva worshipers.