As I arrived there I felt closer to myself and to God, it was evident that I was in the presence of something really pure and divine. The entire little village felt frozen in time, it was magical, spiritual in a way almost impossible to describe.
It took me riding a motorbike with no training, sleeping under the stars, waking up to giant dead lizards in the room, climbing rocks, witnessing the stunning sunsets, prolific heritage and everything in between, to fall in love with the mystical land of Hampi. I spent more than 3 months on the road, backpacking solo across beautiful places in India, and I have to say the week in Hampi was the highlight of my trip. Here's what I found!
The Legend of Pampapati
Hampi gets its name from Pampa, incarnation of Parvati, who was a devoted worshiper of Shiva – a Yogi, immersed in deep meditation. Pampa herself took up meditation on the opposite bank of the River Tungabhadra. Seeing her devotion, Kama, the God of love, introduced her to Shiva. When offered a boon by Shiva, Pampa asked his hand in marriage. And, after a lot of wrath and fury towards Kama (for disrupting his meditation), Shiva and Pampa eventually got married at the Virupaksha Temple. Since then, the place was known as Pampakshetra and Shiva, as Pampapati.
Hampi has been religiously and historically important ever since, and Vijayanagara Kingdom is only a chapter in the long history of Hampi. The Kingdom lasted roughly for two centuries (14th – 16th century). Hampi, then was the capital of the empire and was world's second largest city, only after Beijing. The colossal ruins of the most powerful kingdom of the South still stand tall in Hampi, and are given the status of World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Kishkinda Chapter of Ramayana
Hampi finds mentions in and a lot of similarities with the Hindu epic Ramayana. Rama and Laxmana met Hanuman, Sugriva and the monkey army here in Hampi. Anjaneya Hill on the other side of Tungabhadra River, is considered the birthplace of Hanuman. Hampi also finds a mention in the Keechaka episode of Mahabharata and on your way to the iconic Vitthala Temple, you'd also find Bhima's gate, depicting the time of Pandava's exile.
Boulder Strewn Landscape
According to Geologists, Hampi's boulder strewn landscape is one of the oldest exposed surfaces on earth. It took tens of millions of years and natural forces to crack up the giant monoliths and eventually get morphed into boulders.
The mythology says differently though, Hampi, is believed to be the mythical monkey kingdom. In the intense battle between the two brothers Vali and Sugreeva, they threw boulders at each other which piled up all around Hampi.
I spent days walking amidst the green paddy fields that interspersed the boulder strewn landscape. Everyday I witnessed a different sunset from a different hill, I climbed rocks and slept on the roof of my hostel to gaze at the breathtaking night sky of Hampi. I spent my mornings petting the dogs, sipping southern coffee with travelers from around the world. Every day would be a different adventure, a different lesson on history, geology, mythology, archaeology and culture, as I explored the ruins and roamed around the bazaars and temples of this magical place.
I had to climb 575 steps to reach the Monkey Temple on Anjaneya Hill, which had the most spectacular panoramic views of the entire village, and unarguably the most beautiful sunset, and in that moment I knew all the reasons why Hampi would be the 2nd and the only Indian location on the list of must see global destinations.