Hampi -a Heritage treasure Trove
Hampi, having world’s largest Open air Museum, is a UNESCO world heritage site. This area is famous for its pre-historic megalithic dolmens at Badami, ancient temples at Aihole, Pattadakal, Mahakuta and Hampi itself.
- Badami is famous for Bhutanatha and Mallikarjuna group of temples;
- Pattadakal is famous for Papanatha temple, Galaganatha Temple, Chandrashekara temple, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Jambu Lingeshwara Temple, and Kadasiddeshwar Temple;
- Aihole is famous for Hucchappayya gudi, Ambigergudi temples, Ramalingeshvara temples, Kuntigudi, Triyambakeshvara Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Tarabasappa temple and Jyotirlinga Temple.
- Hampi is famous for Ugra Narsimha, Shri Achyutaraaya Swami Temple, Virupaksha Temple, Shri Vijay Vitthala Temple, Stone Chariot, Hampi Archeological Museum, Queen’s Bath, Hajara Ramchandra Temple, Lotus Mahal, Elephant Stable etc;
- Anjaneyadri or Anjaneya Hill, the birthplace of the monkey-god Hanuman, Rishimuka mountain, Pampa Sarovar related to Shiva and Parvati are other famous nearby places which are affiliated with Ramayana.
How to reach Hubli, Karnataka:
By Air: Hubli Airport
Hubli Airport (IATA: HBX) is a domestic airport situated at 8 kilometers from city center and 20 km from Dharwad. It is the 3rd busiest airport of Karnataka. In March 2020, Hubli airport received the best airport award under government of India’s Regional connectivity scheme. It connects to 10 destinations throughout the country and efforts are being made to upgrade it to international standards. There is only one direct flight of Indigo Airlines i.e., 6E- 5624 at 10.00 AM from Delhi to Hubli and Return flight 6E-5625 at 12.55 PM from Hubli to Delhi (Please check latest timing of flights from the website of respective Airlines).
It is well connected with Indian Rail Network with longest platform in the world. Hubli is the headquarters of the South Western Railway zone. Hubli, an important railway junction, has trains connecting with major cities like Mumbai, New Delhi, Varanasi, Hyderabad, Tirupati, Vijaywada, Kolkata, Chennai Rameshwaram etc. Hospete is the nearest railway station (12 KM) to Hampi, World Heritage site.
Hubli lies on the “Golden Quadrilateral“. It also lies on National Highway 63 (Ankola–Gooty) and National Highway 218 (Hubli–Humnabad), which connects it with major cities in the region.
Best time to visit Hampi and nearby areas:
Winter is best time to visit Hampi and nearby area i.e., from October to February. The weather remains pleasant or moderately cool except peak afternoons.
Summer is very hot, so it not advisable to visit this area from March to June.
Monsoon gets average and inconsistent rainfall creates a hot and humid condition. So, plan your visit according to your wish and also to weather forecast.
You may like to plan your visit in November when a series of festivals beings celebrated in this area including Vijaya Utsav festival i.e., festival of Hampi.
A snapshot of my tour plan:
I would like to give some snapshots of my recent visit to Hubli – Badami – Pattadakal – Aihole – Hampi etc. (December, 2023). I had visited these places during a study visit along with a group of 27 Under Secretaries of Central Secretariat Service Cadre who are going to be promoted as Deputy Secretary to the Government of India (GOI). This programme was organized by the Institute of Secretariat and Training Management (ISTM), New Delhi. It is premier Training Institute for shaping the future of this great country by providing training and improving skills of the Central Secretariat Service Officers who are the backbone of the Government of India. These officers are working in different Ministries/ Departments of GOI like Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Rural Development, Department of Personnel & Training and NITI Aayog etc.
DAY– 1: New Delhi – Hubli – Badami
We arrived at Hubli Airport and proceeded to Badami which is about 110 KM from the Airport and took around 2 hours and 15 minutes.
The Badami region was settled in pre-historic times, as is evidenced by megalithic dolmens. ‘Badami’, formerly known as ‘Vatapi’, was the royal capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 to 757 AD. It is famous for its rock cut monuments i.e., Badami cave temples and structural temples i.e., Bhutanatha temples, Badami Shivalaya and Jambulingesvara temple. It is located in a gorge at the foot of a rugged, red sandstone ridge that surrounds Agastya Lake which is a man-made lake.
Badami has been selected as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY – Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India.
Under the Badami Chalukyas, Badami emerged as one of the regional centres of art in the Malprabha valley – a cradle of Hindu and Jain temple architecture schools. The caves at Badami are based on themes depicting, Tandava Dance by lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, and his carnations. Both Dravida and Nagara styles of temples are found in Badami, along with those in Aihole, Pattadakal and Mahakuta.
Badami has eighteen inscriptions, with important historical information. The first Sanskrit inscription in old Kannada script, on a hillock dates back to 543 AD, from the period of Pulakeshin-I (Vallabheswara), the second is the 578 AD cave inscription of Mangalesha in Kannada language and script and the third is the Kappe Arabhatta records, the earliest available Kannada poetry in tripadi (three line) metre. One inscription near the Bhuthanatha temple also has inscriptions dating back to the 12th century in Jain rock-cut temple dedicated to the Tirtankara Adinatha.
The Badami cave temples were likely fully painted inside by the late 6th century. Most of these paintings are now lost, except for the mural fragments, bands and faded sections found in Cave 3 (Vaishnava, Hindu) and Cave 4 (Jain). The original murals are most clearly evidenced in Cave 3, where inside the Vishnu temple, there are paintings of secular art as well as murals that depict legends of Shiva and Parvati on the ceiling and in parts less exposed to the natural elements. These are among the earliest known paintings of Hindu legends in India.
DAY– 2 : Badami – Pattadakal – Aihole – Hampi
We visited Bhutanatha Group of Temples at Badami, Grand Vipruksha Temple at Pattadakal which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We also visited 5th Century stone temples at Aihole, Anegundi village and Anjaneya Hills.
Butanatha Temple, Agastya Lake, Badami
The Bhutanatha group of temples are 7th to 12th century Hindu temples to the east of Agastya Lake in Badami, Karnataka, India. It consists of two subgroups – one called the East Bhutanatha group or Bhutanatha main group from 7th to 8th century mostly in the Dravida architecture style; the other called the Mallikarjuna group from 11th to 12th century in the Nagara architecture.
Bhutanatha Main Group of Temples:
The Bhutanatha main group (700–725 CE) is the older set of Hindu shrines to the east of the Agastya Teertha. The oldest temple in this group is the main large three storeys temple made in the Dravida-style. They are just a kilometre away from Badami Cave Temples.
Mallikarjuna Group of Temples:
The Mallikarjuna group is close to the main Bhutanatha group, but located on the north back of the man-made lake. It consists of several temples having pyramidal superstructure made in the 11th to 12th century phamsana Nagara style. The largest temple likely was a Vishnu temple. The artwork found in this group includes both Vishnu and Shiva.
We climbed the stones and reached to hilltop to see the mesmerising sunrise around 6.40 AM. It was a kind of trekking which started from the Bhutanatha Temple, Badami.
If you succeed in reaching the top of the hills, you will never forget the experience of this whole exercise throughout your life. You may feel calm environment, fresh air, fresh water streams and may feel purity and clean nature around you.
Magnificent view from Badami Hilltop
This journey will ignite your mind; keep your mind busy in finding so many answers and also about the dedication of our ancient builders for making these carvings in caves, even in and around the hilltop stones. Why they made them? What was the purpose? What they wanted to tell us about their technology or the way they tear the rocks and made monolithic structures?
Pattadakal is about 23 KM from Badami which takes around 30 minutes to reach. While, Aihole, famous for Chalukya monuments, is just 10 KM away from here.
Pattadakal is also called as Raktapura, a UNESCO World Heritage site from the 7th and 8th centuries waiting for you. It consists of Hindu and Jain temples located on the west bank of the Malaprabha River in Bagalkot district. The monument site is protected under Indian law and is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
UNESCO has described Pattadakal as “a harmonious blend of architectural forms from northern and southern India” and an illustration of “eclectic art” at its height. The Hindu temples are generally dedicated to Shiva, but elements of Vaishnavism and Shaktism theology and legends are also featured. The decorations in the Hindu temples display various Vedic and Puranic concepts; depict stories from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata Purana, Panchatantra and the Kiratarjuniya.
Chalukyas used this place for coronation ceremonies. One of the main attractions at Pattadakal is Virupaksha Temple. Unparalleled craftsmanship at Virupaksha temple showcases the sculptures of Ugra Narshimha and Nataraja. Constructed by queen Lokamahadevi in the 8th century AD to celebrate her husband and King Vikramaditya’s victory over Pallavas.
Chalukyas used this place for coronation ceremonies. One of the main attractions at Pattadakal is Virupaksha Temple. Unparalleled craftsmanship at Virupaksha temple showcases the sculptures of Ugra Narshimha and Nataraja.
The other popular temples in the complex are Papanatha temple, Galaganatha Temple, Chandrashekara temple, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Jambu Lingeshwara Temple, and Kadasiddeshwar Temple.
One of the most attractive events at Pattadakal is the Pattadakal Festival. A mesmerizing amalgamation of music and dance with Pattadakal temples in the backdrop makes the festival a visual treat for the spectators.
Aihole, famous for Chalukya monuments, is just 10 KM away from Patadakkal and 140 km away from Hampi which takes about 2 and a half hours to reach by road. Aihole, also referred to as Aivalli, Ahivolal or Aryapura, is a historic site of ancient and medieval era Buddhist, Hindu and Jain monuments. This is a cluster of around 120 temples made from the 4th century AD, along the Malaprabha river valley in Northern Karnataka.
Aihole was the first capital of Chalukyas which is also known as the ‘cradle of Indian Rock Architecture’. A place near the Meguti hillocks has prehistoric dolmens and cave paintings which shows evidence of human settlement in the pre-historic period.
Durga Temple is the most popular one which has an art gallery and an archaeological Museum. Durga Temple is a misleading name, according to one theory; it stands near the ruins of a fort-like enclosure or durg so it was named as Durga Temple. It was originally dedicated to Hindu gods Surya and Vishnu. Its iconic apsidal layout is similar to 2nd or 1st century BCE Buddhist Chaitya halls found in Ajanta Caves.
Ravana Phadi Cave is one of the oldest rock-cut cave temples in Aihole, located less than a kilometer uphill, northeast from the Durga temple complex. The temple dates to the 6th century. It has an image of Ardhanarishvara portraying the equivalence and essential interdependence of the masculine left Shiva and feminine right Parvati. It also has Harihara portraying a fused image of Shaivism and Vaishnavism, with left Shiva and right Vishnu.
A partly rock-cut two-storeyed Buddhist temple, few steps below the crest of the hill is located on Meguti hill. In front of the temple is a damaged Buddha statue, one without a head, probably taken out from inside the temple.
Four collections of about ten Jain monuments from the 6th to 12th century CE found on the Meguti hill, Chanranthi matha, Yoginarayana complex and an early Jain cave temple. The Meghuti hill north-facing Jain temple is dedicated to Jain Tirthankara Mahavira.
The other famous temples are Hucchappayya gudi, Ambigergudi temples, Ramalingeshvara temples, Kuntigudi, Triyambakeshvara Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, Tarabasappa temple and Jyotirlinga Temple.
In Kannada, Anegundi means Elephant Gorge. Anegundi village, previously known as Kishkindha, is older than Hampi situated on the northern bank of the Tungabhadra River in Gangavathi, Koppal district.
Maurya Mane a Stone Age colony which is thousands of years old is situated in this village and is part of the Neolithic history. This village is a living heritage site which has traces of Microlithic, Megalithic, and Neolithic Ages. Geologists say that this place is around four billion years old.
Pre-historic rock shelters and paintings are found in the Tungabhadra River valley. There is a prehistoric settlement called Onake Kindi. The boulders have rock art, with some red and white markings depicting figures of humans and bulls. On another boulder, there is a circular diagram like a sun and moon with some symbolism.
The rock paintings belonged to the Iron Age, dating back to 1500 BC; the faded circular painting is a very rare depiction of a megalithic style of burial, which includes a human body in the middle surrounded by a stone circle and burial goods.
Anjaneyadri or Anjaneya Hill, the birthplace of the monkey-god Hanuman, and the mountain Rishimuka are nearby places affiliated with Ramayana. Pampa Sarovar is related to Shiva and Parvati, both of whom were featured in Ramayana; Sabari, a devotee of Rama met here, the legends of Ramayana are pervading around Anegundi. The pilgrims consider Pampa Sarovar a holy place. Nimvapuram, a nearby village to Anegundi, has a mount of ash believed to be the cremated remains of the monkey king Baali.
Anegundi history dates back to 3rd century BC, when the city was under the Ashoka Empire. Anegundi was ruled by various dynasties like Shatavahanas, Kadambas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Delhi Sultanate, Vijayanagara Empire and Bahamanis.
Anegundi has a fort with many gates. There is a Ganesha cave temple. Vijayanagar kings used to pray before every battle at the Durga temple, and visited the Pampa Sarovar and Shri Lakshmi temple. Royal descendants of the Vijayanagar Empire still exist in Anegundi.
DAY– 3: Hampi
We visited Hampi which is a world heritage site declared by UNESCO. It is also the “World’s largest Open air Museum”. We visited Narsimha Temple, Stone Chariot, Virupaksha Temple and did boating in Tungabhadra River. We also visited Atal Bihari Vajpayee Zoological Park, Hampi, Karnataka.
From Aihole, we went to Hampi which is about 140 KM and we covered it in 3 hours. It is famous for Group of Monuments, its historic significance, heritage, temples, ruins, and exquisite craftsmanship. Hampi is mentioned in the Ramayana and the Puranas of Hinduism as Pampa-kshetra (Pampa is another name of the goddess Parvati) or Kishkindha-kshetra. It continues to be a religious centre, with the Virupaksha Temple, Ugranarsimha Vigraha, Vitthala Temple and other various monuments.
Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire from 1336 to 1565. It was a fortified city. Persian, European and Portuguese travellers say that Hampi was a prosperous, wealthy and grand city near the Tungabhadra River, with numerous temples, farms and trading markets. By 1500 CE, Hampi-Vijayanagara was the world’s second-largest city, after Beijing, and probably India’s richest at that time, attracting traders from Persia and Portugal.
The site was an early medieval era pilgrimage place known as Pampakshetra. Its fame came from the Kishkindha chapters of the Hindu epic Ramayana, where Rama and Lakshmana meet Hanuman, Sugriva and the monkey army in their search for kidnapped Sita. The Hampi area has many close resemblances to the place described in the epic.
Emperor Ashoka’s Rock Edicts (269-232 BCE) found in Nittur and Udegolan, Bellary district suggest that this region was the part Maurya Empire during the 3rd century BCE. A Brahmi inscription and a terracotta seal dating to about the 2nd century CE have been found during site excavations.
The Virupaksha temple is the oldest shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, known here as Virupaksha/ Pampa pathi. It is the principal destination for pilgrims and tourists, and remains an active Hindu worship site. The temple attracts large crowds on the occasion of an annual fête with a chariot procession to mark the marriage of Virupaksha and Pampa which is held in spring, as is the solemn festival of Maha Shivaratri.
The Vitthala temple and market complex is about 3 kilometres from the Virupaksha temple near the banks of the Tungabhadra River. It is the most artistically sophisticated Hindu temple in Hampi. The Vitthala temple has a Garuda shrine in the form of a stone chariot in the courtyard; it is an often-pictured symbol of Hampi. The iconic Stone Chariot, the image of which can be seen on a 50 rupee note in Indian Currency, is taken from here.
The Hemakuta hill lies between the Virupaksha temple complex to the north and the Krishna temple to the south. The hill has more than thirty small-to-moderate-sized temples, together with water cisterns, gateways, and secular pavilions. The Hemakuta hill also has monuments with two monolithic Ganesha; the Kadalekalu Ganesha and the Sasivekalu Ganesha.
Reliefs of Jain temples at Hampi include Hemkut Jain temples, Ratnantraykut, Parsvanath Charan and Ganagitti Jain temples. The Ganigitti Jain temple is near Bhima’s gate is dedicated to Tirthankara Kunthunatha. Some other Jain Temples dedicated to Parshvanatha and Mahavira.
DAY– 4: Hampi – Hubli.
We visited Hampi Museum, Queen’s Bath Palace, Royal Enclosure (Huge Stone Gates), Dusshera Stage (Raj Mandap), Step well (Bawdi), Hazara Ramachandra Temple, Zenana Enclosure (Queen’s Palace), Jal Mahal, Lotus Mahal and Elephant stable. You can visit Tungabhadra Dam & Park before leaving this area.
The Archaeological Museum, Hampi is situated in Kamalapura which has a rich collection of sculptures, statues, relics and artefacts collected from various locations of the Vijayanagara ruins. It is also a treasure trove of architectural pieces, artifacts, relics, coins, tools, miniature paintings, ivory items, copper plates and many more.
In 1520, Domingo Paes, a Portuguese traveller, visited Vijayanagara as a part of trade contingent from Portuguese Goa. He wrote his memoir as ‘Chronica dos reis de Bisnaga’, in which he stated Vijayanagara was “as large as Rome, and very beautiful to the sight … the best provided city in the world”.
Because of resembles of lotus flower, it is called Lotus Mahal or Kamal Mahal or Chitragani Mahal which is located within the Zanana enclosure. It was used by the women of the Vijayanagara Dynasty for recreational activities and to spend leisure time. This monument stands with minimal damage.
The other attractions include Hazara Rama temple, its walls have the carvings of entire Ramayana but some carvings belong to Krishna, Kodandarama temple and riverside monuments, Pattabhirama temple complex which has Mahanavami platform, also called the “Great Platform”, “Audience Hall”, “Dasara” or “Mahanavami Dibba” monument, the Square Water Pavilion, also called the Queen’s Bath, square-stepped well etc.
DAY–5: Hubli –Departure
Here, it is a suggestion; you can leave Hampi for Hubli on day 4 in the evening and stay in Hubli or you may also leave Hampi for Hubli Airport in the morning on day-5 which is about 170 KM.
You may also plan to go to Goa which is about 330 KM from Hampi or 160 KM from Hubli.