What’s the World but What the Stories Tell of It?

Hampi

“Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet,” said Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.  He knew what it meant in essence.  Do you?

We believe that every bit of this Earth is sacred; and this thought almost has a spiritual connotation with a scientific exactness to it because this planet is our only home yet. And how much it has seen and endured! While there is an abundance of life that exists beyond human comprehension, the Earth knows all human secrets.

Similar thoughts might crowd your mind when you walk in a place like Hampi. Your footsteps become more careful and cautious because each path they tread brims with architectural genius. Your fingers become eager to touch stories that are almost palpable; stories from the past that have also stood the test of time.

Hampi’s Mythical Ancestry

When you listen to what folklore and mythology have to say to you in Hampi, you’ll be flooded with reasons to visit the place time and again.

Hakka and Bukka, the founders of the Vijayanagara kingdom, tell their Guru, Vidyaranya, of an unusual sight they once had during a hunting expedition. A hare was being chased by their hound until the former unexpectedly turned brave and started chasing the hound back!  Vidyaranya, upon hearing this, told them that there couldn’t be a better place for them to establish their capital, and thus began the story of Hampi as the capital of the Vijayanagara empire.

Hampi is also believed to be the ex-monkey kingdom called Kishkindha, which, as written in the Ramayana, was ruled by Sugriva. The king was helped by Hanuman, the much-loved monkey God.

The name Hampi evolves from the name Pampa, the name of Brahma’s daughter, which is also the primeval name of the river Tungabhadra. Pampa was an ardent worshipper of Shiva, whose devotion impresses the Lord. He offers Pampa a boon and she asks him to marry her!

Shiva yields to the lady’s love and admiration, and weds her, gaining the name ‘Pampapathi’. The wedding happens on a hill, during which the Gods shower gold on it, which is why the hill is known as Hemakuta (heap of gold), and the place came to be known as Pampakshetra or the land of Pampa.

The Virupaksha temple, the main temple in function, acquired its name after an incarnation of Shiva. It refers to ‘the one with three eyes’, especially the third oblique one on his forehead.

Narasimha, the man-lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu, stands as dauntingly as the very idea of his character. Your mind might replay for you the entire episode of Prahlada’s childhood and the eventual death of his demon-father, Hiranyakashipu, at his hands.

 

Ugra Narasimha

© Neeta Shankar

 

While you set out to explore Hampi, you will also discover various carvings depicting the adolescent Krishna stealing cowherd girls’s clothes. Now, now, who hasn’t been enchanted with the tales of Krishna and his charms? In fact one of the pillars erected around the Kadalekalu Ganesha idol has carvings showing events from Krishna’s life. Another at the Pattabhirama Temple also portrays similar images.

Hampi is consecrated by rosy dawns and catches the fiery hues of scarlet sunsets, and it has much to say even in its haunting silences.

To explore this sacred land and learn more fascinating facets of history, join our Ruin Reminiscence Photography Tour with Neeta Shankar.

 

Categories: Articles, Featured, Photography, Travel, Uncategorized
Sourabha Rao

Sourabha is a staff writer at Toehold who dexterously gives verbal form to the inexpressible, and with her passion for travel, weaves immersive stories that transcend space and dissolve time.

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