Hampi – the abandoned capital of the medieval Vijayanagar kingdom with its 1,000 temples – is a true highlight for visitors to Goa.













Hampi is a historical site that became the capital of the Hindu Vijayanagara Empire in the mid-14th century. In its heyday, it had around 200,000 inhabitants – according to some estimates, the population may have been as high as 500,000. Hampi has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986. Today, Hampi is a village with only 2,134 inhabitants (2001 census).

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Only traces remain of the fortifications that once surrounded the city; of the palaces, some of the exterior walls are still standing. Numerous temples built of hard granite have withstood the centuries, however. Small Jain temple ruins from the 10th century have been preserved, and the most complex and best-preserved Vijayanagara-style temples were built between the 14th and 16th centuries. The zenith of this style can be seen in the Vittala temple from the mid-15th century located near the river, with three gopurams (tower gates) marking the temple grounds that measure 164 by 94 meters. The temple features several mandapas (outdoor halls), including the customary hundred-pillar hall. The main temple is dedicated to Vishnu, and his vehicle Garuda sits in a free-standing chariot – a faithful rendition of a wooden chariot sculpted in stone, a work of art unparalleled elsewhere in India.

Today, the main temple and the Hampi Bazaar leading up to it bustle with locals and traders from other Indian states. The sacred buildings nestle in an otherworldly landscape of boulders, surrounded by fertile banana plantations and rice paddies irrigated by the Tunghabhadra river. The nearby Tungabhadra Dam was built by the Indian government to supply the region with electricity.

In places, it is possible to cross the river on coracles – small, round wicker boats that look like turtle shells – to reach Anegondi, the expansive northern outpost of the city, of which very little remains today.

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