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The quondam capital of the great Vijayanagara Kingdom, Hampi; a small hamlet in the state of Karnataka is renowned world wide for conserving the legendary ruins of that erstwhile empire. Positioned on the banks of the river Tungbhadra, Hampi was compared to Rome by Domingo Paes, a Portuguese traveler who described it as, “the best provided city in the world.” The title ‘Hampi’ finds its origin from the word ‘Pampa’, the former name of Tungbhadra River. The Kannada word that was derived from Pampa is ‘Hampe’ which was later anglicized as Hampi.
Hampi, a potpourri of history, culture and religion is metaphorically called a vast open museum of architectural ingenuity and ancient cultural legacy of India. The township, surrounded by thousands of boulders sings the sagas of rich and vibrant history of Vijayanagara Empire. The Hampi Ruins, acknowledged by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site are spread over the total area of 26 square kilometers. The ruins of magnanimous palaces, pavilions, invincible fortifications, splendid temples, elegantly carved pillars, regal stables, aqueducts, baths, market streets, and many other edifices ascertain the saying that if poems were composed out of stones, it would be Hampi. Each and every rock and each and every wreck speak the language of beauty and grandiose.
Located about 74 km from Bellary and 350 km from the state capital Bangalore, Hampi is also an important pilgrim destination of Southern India. Virupaksha Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva is a much sought after religious sight of Hampi. Flanked by the Tungbhadra River, the boulder- spotted landscape of Hampi provides a flavor of relics from antiquity. A 15th Century Persian Traveler saluted this epitome of tradition and heritage saying, “the pupil of the eye has never seen a place like this, and the ear of intelligence has never been informed that there existed anything equal to it in the world”.