I first met Bidyunmala when I was in 12th standard by the novel Tungabhadrar Tire (By Tungabhadra) by the great writer Sharadindu Bandopadhyay. And I was introduced to Vijayanagara Empire – Hampi too, was a prosperous, wealthy and grand city on the bank of Tungabhadra River.
ASI manages the place now 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. The stories of those traders are still alive on the walls of the temples. Every road in Hampi acts as live history book of Vijayanagara. The 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.
Located in Karnataka near the modern-era city of Hosapete, Hampi’s ruins are spread over 4,100 hectares (16 sq mi) and it has been described by UNESCO as an “austere, grandiose site” of more than 1,600 surviving remains of the last great Hindu kingdom in South India that includes “forts, riverside features, royal and sacred complexes, temples, shrines, pillared halls, mandapas, memorial structures, water structures and others”. Hampi predates the Vijayanagara Empire; there is evidence of Ashokan epigraphy, and it is mentioned in the Ramayana and the Puranas of Hinduism as Pampaa Devi Tirtha Kshetra. Hampi continues to be an important religious centre, housing the Virupaksha Temple, an active Adi Shankara-linked monastery and various monuments belonging to the old city.
However, Hampi reached its zenith of glory under Krishandeva Raya.
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