|Hampi: Ancient Capital of Vijaynagar|
The austere yet grandiose site of Hampi was the capital of the last and the most famed Hindu kingdom of Vijaynagar, the largest empire in post-mogul India, covering the present-day Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra and Maharashtra. Although in ruins today, Hampi once boasted of a treasure trove, reflected in its lavish Dravidian temples and palaces, and under the rule of king Krishnadevaraya, it became the seat of re-establishment of Indian culture with a flourish for music, art, sculpture, and literature.
The Vijaynagar Empire was established in 1336 A.D. by two brothers Hakka and Bukka under the guidance of Saint Madhva Vidyaranya, who was the Jagadguru of Sringeri. However, the origin of the capital state dates back to the age of the Hindu epic Ramayana when it was the site of Kishkinda, a monkey kingdom. Hampi still has a complete chariot made of stone, along with a large statue of Narasimha (one of the Avatars of Lord Vishnu).
During the reign
of Krishnadevaraya, the official court languages were Telugu and Kannada (with
a common script, known as Vijaya Lipi today). Several poets and ministers were
in attendance in his court, the most renowned of them was Tenali Ramakrishna
who entertained the emperor and others with his wit and sheer brilliance (his
wits are popular in Andhra and Karnataka even today). The main port was at Kalyan
(now a part of Mumbai) that added to the glory of the kingdom.
Tourists throng to the 14th century ruins of Hampi, located near Hospet, in Bellary district, which silently narrate the story of grandeur and fabulous wealth of the bygone era, of men's infinite talent and power of creativity and his capacity for senseless destruction. Covering an of about 26 sq. km, the ruins lie scattered amidst giant boulders and vegetation, protected by the tempestuous river Tungabhadra in the north and rocky granite ridges on the other three sides. The Tungbhadra dam across the eponymous river is another attraction to the tourists.
The region is hoisted for its archeological importance. In March 2002, the Government of India announced Hampi would be developed as an international destination centre and that the State Government will have a separate body, the Hampi World Heritage Area Management Authority for integrated development and conservation of Hampi.