Hampi, Places to visit in Hampi
Great civilizations and dynasties do not have a fairy tale beginning, for they are all founded on streams of blood . While Indian folklore is rich in heroic legends , a birth of a dynasty is replete with battles fought and won . It is the same with the Vijaynagar empire , except there are several stories here with various versions. But the location remains the same. A river bed with a fortification on one bank . This was the principality of Anegundi, ruled then by a Hoysala chieftain. When the Delhi Sultans  laid siege to the Hoysalas and Kakatiyas, the latter fell, leaving South India vulnerable to their attacks. Our story begins here in the 14th century.
Sitting in a coracle and  enjoying the ride around the Tungabhadra  I heard a guide narrate the story of Vijaynagar  to a group of tourists .”When the Delhi Sultans had invaded Warangal, two brothers called Hakka or Harihara  and Bukka escaped  and landed here in Anegundi,” he says , pointing to the town on the other side of the river. The brothers who were under the Kakatiyas then started serving the local chief here . Meanwhile the chief gave refuge to Bahauddin, a rebel nephew of the Delhi Sultan , Muhammad Bin Tughlaq.
“The Sultan plundered Anegundi and the brothers escaped again, and this is when they met Vidyaranya , a seer from the Sringeri Shankaracharya Mutt who asked them to build a city on the other bank of the river .He called it Vijaynagar or the city of victory though we also call it Vidyanagar after the seer, “ the guide said. The story however does not end here. The brothers raised a small army and revolted against the Sultan, who returned the kingdom to them. The seeds of the Vijayanagar empire which went on to rule all of South India for over 350 years had just been sown.
And yet everything about Hampi is not about Vijaynagar. Gazing at the waters of the Tungabhadra, I was looking forward to going towards the Pampa Sarovar on the other side. After all, Pampa is older than Hampi or Hampe as it was called and this was the Kishkinta of Ramayana where Rama gets the support of Sugriva and Hanuman and even kills Vaali. It is no wonder that Jambhavan , the lone sloth bear in Sugriva’s army comes alive in Daroji, the sloth bear sanctuary located close to Hampi.

As dusk dawned in Vittala temple , I was lost in the silence , when a familiar voice greeted me. It was the guide and his lot of tourists. As I walked away , I could hear him say, “ This is the greatest empire of all times, people compare it with Rome , but let me tell you that Vijaynagar is even more majestic than Rome .”  I thought this is probably where  civilizations and empires meet – on battlefields.  And yet there is a similarity in the stories – one river and two brothers…

The story was published in my column, Inside Story in The Hindu


  1. Lakshmi 9 July, 2010 at 20:03 Reply

    Thanks Phivos..this is just the tip of the iceberg as they say…hampi rivals only rome

    Photocache, deepak – Thanks

    Fida – i like the last line too

    Indian Bazaar – Welcome to backpacker and thanks for that

    Celine – Been there many times..but whatever you write abt Hampi, it falls short

    Aarti – Go towards the end of the year

    PNS – He belongs to Sringeri, Shankaracharya mutt, he is not Madhavacharya and they come from Warangal..even today, you can see the Vidyashankar temple in Sringeri

  2. Jeevan 10 July, 2010 at 16:32 Reply

    Well narrated the story in short, and great knowing about this country. Very nice pictures of hampi and the last one were quite fabulous.

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