Once one of the biggest cities in the world, the lost city of Hampi was India’s crown jewel and most important city from the 14th to late 16th centuries. It was home to kings and queens, huge temples, buildings with different architectural styles, and a bustling civilization. Today, Hampi is only a series of monuments and ruins dating back to those centuries protected by UNESCO.
Stone Chariot is an iconic monument located in front of Vijaya Vittala Temple in Hampi, central Karnataka
The name Hampi comes from the goddess of love Parvati in Hinduism. According to the legend, Parvati was in love with Shiva but Shiva only wanted to meditate. Feeling sad, Parvati started to meditate like Shiva to gain his love. Hindus believe that the place where she meditated is the city of Hampi.
The Edicts of Emperor Ahsoka on the site suggest that Hampi belonged to the Maurya Empire in the 3rd BC. Historians believe that after that, the city was under the control of the Chalukya dynasty. During this era, Hampi became a center of worship with grand temples which survived to this day.
Hampi is mainly famous for its temples. The oldest temple in the city is the famous Virupaksha Temple. The Chalukyans built the temple in the 7th century to celebrate Shiva. Although the temple started as a simple shrine, in time, it became the huge temple it is today.
Aside from being one of Hampi’s and India’s most essential temples, Virupaksha Temple is also a mathematical and architectural enigma. It is 50 meters tall and its design comprises various engineering and mathematics concepts such as geometrical shapes in different scales or Fibonacci sequences.
Another important and impressive Hampi temple is Vittala Temple. It is one of the largest temples in the city and it was built during the 15th century. What is even more impressive about Vittala Temple is the fact that many kings after its construction added other pieces without ruining the earlier adjustments and developments.
Arguably the most intriguing part of Hampi is the 500-year-old singing columns. These columns, or pillars, are the foundations of the Vittala Temple. Each column represents another musical instrument and if someone touches or pats them softly they produce a melody.
Hampi is called the lost city because in the late 16th century, invading forces destroyed the city. After the invasion, the city was just abandoned and lost to time. Only after the British colonization, archeologists realized the city’s existence and brought it back to life.