A brief chronicle on Hampi, a historically important town located on the south banks of the Tungabadra river, in Karnataka. A well earned vacation.

Myth:

In Satya Yuga, 11 thousand years* before now, Lord Shiva having vented his fury after losing his wife Sati, sat on one of the oldest land of Hemakuta hills on the bank of a gushing river, and lost himself and the world to the eternal blissful state of Nirvana. Sati, reborn as Pampa, chose to serve her Lord and earn his love in her new life but the Lord would not awaken from his deep oneness.  Fearing the rise of the evil Tarakasura, who could only be killed by the progeny of Shiva, and finding Shiva himself in his oneness, the devas sent the God of Love and Lust, Kamadeva, to disturb his penance and make him desire Pampa.  The flower-borne arrow sent from the sugarcane bow by Kamadeva, awoke Shiva from his state of bliss, but instead of desire for Pampa, built in him a rage that burnt the lord of Love forever more from the fire from his third eye.  As Shiva went back into his oneness, Pampa chose to follow him, and herself performed penance for centuries until the power of her penance awoke the love in the Lord and he married her, begot a son, who killed Tarakasura.

*No scientific dating.  Only faith-based lore

The Shiva at the Hemakuta hills came to be known as Virupaksha – the angry eyed one – and the gushing river came to be known as the Pampa river with the southern banks being called Hampi – a derivation of the mythical Pampa.  

The Virupaksha temple built around the undated (and according to lore, self-formed at the beginning of time) linga (the phallic form in which Shiva is represented) has been in worship at least from the 7th century AD and continues today.

The Virupaksha temple complex
The entrance tower to the Virupaksha temple

Mythology:

About 9300 years** ago, the exiled prince Rama and his brother Lakshmana, in the course of their search for the former’s wife Sita who was abducted by the demon king Ravana, reached the ancient land on the Northern banks of the river Pampa and met with the humanoid monkey population that lived on the rocky area of Kishkinta.  After killing Vali, the two princes crowned his brother Sugriva as the king of Kishkinta, and in return the newly crowned monkey king offered his monkey army to Rama to fight Ravana and rescue Sita.  

Hampi and Kishkita bear temples and artifacts pointing to the Kishkinta chapter of the Ramayana.

** Dating form astronomical events described in the Ramayana, the story of Rama.

The river Pampa is now called Tungabadra

River Pampa. Now called Tungabadra

Prehistory

Anegudi plateau on which both Kishkinta and Hamp are located, is said to be one of the oldest plateaus on the planet, estimated to be 3,000 million years old. Local lore is that Anegundi as the maternal home of Mother Earth.

Recent History

Excerpt from Wikipedia

Hampi was the capital of the Vijayanagara Empire in the 14th century.[3] It is a fortified city. Chronicles left by Persian and European travellers, particularly the Portuguese, 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 medieval-era city after Beijing, and probably India’s richest at that time, attracting traders from Persia and Portugal.[4][5] The Vijayanagara Empire was defeated by a coalition of Muslim sultanates; its capital was conquered, pillaged and destroyed by sultanate armies in 1565, after which Hampi remained in ruins.[3][6][7]

Historic lore

From here.

Around 1343 A.D,  Harihara and Bukka, chieftains of a shepherd pastoralist community, came hunting to the south banks of Tungabhadra with their army and hunting dogs leading the way to lure animals out of their hiding. After they reached the south bank of Tungabhadra, they saw a group of rabbits and the hunting dogs started chasing them. But miraculously, the rabbits instead of fearing the dogs turned around and started chasing the dogs back. The dogs feared the rabbit’s bravery and ran away. Harihara and Bukka, wondered at the power of this mystic land and on the adivse of their teacher Vidyaranya, started the new kingdom of Vijayanagara, with its capital at Hampi, that was to reign supreme for the next four hundred years.

From Wikipedia:

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”.[138][139]According to Paes, “there are many groves within it, in the gardens of the houses, many conduits of water which flow into the midst of it, and in places there are lakes …”.[139]

Bath for the Queens
Elephant stables

Even more recent history

The ruins of Hampi remained unknown until the later half of the 20th century. The great Hippie movement of the 1960’s to 80’s saw an influx of free-spirits from the west, who stayed in the ruined structures, and brought in more free spirits, thereby building a tourist economy. The Indian Government took notice and between them and UNESCO, dedicated the site as an archeological treasure. There continues to be a “hippie island” on the North bank of the river.

A hippie style restaurant in Hampi.

More pictures to follow.

11 thoughts on “Hampi

    1. Absolutely. The Ramayana, for example, is an important Hindu epic that tells the tale of the God-king, Rama. I am sure there was a king called Rama, and there is some truth in this story because the astronomical events described in the story are real, and the places written about still exist. The mythical excesses are a product of literary licence and religion-based faith.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. There’s an interesting book called Hamlet’s Mill, written by an MIT scientist. From the back cover: ” What if we could prove that all myths have one common origin in a celestial cosmology? What if the gods, the places they lived, and what they did are but ciphers for celestial activity, a language for the perpetuation of complex astronomical data? Drawing on scientific data, historical and literary sources, the authors argue that our myths are the remains of a preliterate astronomy, an exacting science whose power and accuracy were suppressed and then forgotten by an emergent Greco-Roman world view. This fascinating book throws into doubt the self-congratulatory assumptions of Western science about the unfolding development and transmission of knowledge. This is a truly seminal and original thesis, a book that should be read by anyone interested in science, myth, and the interactions between the two.”

        Liked by 2 people

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