History of Hampi - An Untold Saga

You might be aware of the fact that Hampi is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites, but how many of us actually know what is the history behind the small place located in the city of Karnataka? There are a great many tales related to the town of Hampi with as many interesting facts about the city, which calls upon all history enthusiasts to pursue its intriguing ruins.

The city is filled with ancient temples, dating back to the Vijayanagara Empire. You will be amazed to know that this city is the seat of the empire which flourished in the 16th century. Hampi has been in existence since the Mauryan Empire and has seen a lot of changes ever since, making it instrumental to the course of India's history.

Etymology of Hampi 

The story behind the name of this illustrious destination is quite interesting as well. The village was also known as Pampa - Kshetra or Kishkindha - Kshetra. The name was derived from the old name of the Tungabhadra River which was Pampa, so the name Hampi is the anglicised version of the Kannada name Hampe.

Why is Hampi Famous?

There are a lot of beautiful temples, majestic ruins, aquatic structures and royal embellishments of the times of yore that illustrate the glorious past. The ruins of the olden times are an incredible sight to behold, for both the pilgrims and the tourists alike.

History of Hampi

History of Hampi
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A place of such great magnificence and opulence is sure to have a rich cultural heritage to it too. Hampi was a part of the Mauryan Empire back in the third century BC. There has been enough evidence of the fact that the rock edifices found in the Bellary district were a common form of recording relevant information in the times of Ashoka. Hampi was the capital city during the four different dynasties altogether in the Vijayanagar city that came into existence in the year 1336 AD. The Vijayanagara Empire reached unfathomable heights under the guidance of King Krishnadeva Raya of the Tuluva Dynasty.

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There is a legend associated with the place in relation to Ramayana. It is well known that the epic Ramayana is divided into seven 'Kaands' or episodes. One particular episode named 'Kishkindha Kaand' which has special significance concerning Hampi. According to the legend, the episode took place when Lord Rama and Lord Lakshman reach the Land of Monkeys. The place where they reach is said to be Hampi, and there are many geographical proofs in relation to that too.

Vijayanagar Empire

The Vijayanagara Empire, also called the Karnata Rajya, was created in 1336 AD by Harihara I and Bukka Raya I of the Sangama Dynasty. It came to power by fighting off Islamic invasions towards the end of the 13th century. Famed for its efficient governance and strong trade connections abroad, the Empire brought Southern India to new heights in both technology and fine arts. Their level of mastery can be seen easily in the architecture of the temples at Hampi. Among other examples, intricate engravings of horses or yali (hippogryphs) can be found standing around 8 feet tall on temple pillars.

What is the Story of Lord Shiva that is Related to this Place?

Popular folklore says that before his marriage to Pampa, Lord Shiva did his penance upon Hemakuta Hill here. The devotion which Pampa had towards Lord Shiva evoked sympathy in the mind of Kama, the God of love and He decided to help her out. This disrupted Lord Shiva's penance, resulting in the opening of his third eye, instantly reducing Kama to ashes. Rathi, the Goddess of Passion and also the consort of Kama pleaded to bring Kama back to life. Lord Shiva eventually returned Kama's life, but he did not return his body. Since then Kama is identified as a bodiless entity.

The Lion God Narasimha

Hampi also has a story which related it to Lord Narasimha. There is a temple known as Lakshmi Narasimha Temple which is just a little south of the famous Krishna Temple. Intricately designed pillars here show the different shades of Prahlad's life, who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. Lord Narasimha's destruction of the demon king Hiranyakashyap is displayed here in the form of articulate carvings.

History of Hampi
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Bhima's Gate in Hampi

It is said that during the exile of the Pandavas, Draupadi came across a flower named Saugandhika which had a lovely smell. Enchanted, she desired more of these flowers, so Bheem set forth to find its source. After overcoming many obstacles, he found a pond full of the Saugandhika flower. At this point, Lord Hanuman took the form of an old man and lay across on the pathway. When Bheem asked him to move, he said that he is too old and that Bheem should move his tail himself. When repeated attempts by Bheem failed, he realized that he was facing Lord Hanuman. Bheem then fought two demons guarding the pond and returned with the flower for Draupadi.

Bheema's Gate, History of Hampi
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In conclusion, these are some of the incredible legends behind the popularity of Hampi, and something that makes it different from others.

This post was published by Anindita Pal

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